The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that a suit has been filed on behalf a student, identified as T.F., alleging that the Fox Chapel Area School District (FCASD) violated the federal Rehabilitation Act, resulting in “disability-based harassment” of T.F. The suit claims FCASD failed to adequately address the student’s severe allergy to tree nuts, and subjected him to ridicule by seating him alone in the cafeteria.
According to the suit filed by attorney Jeff Ruder, T.F. is allergic to tree nuts, walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios and Brazil nuts, and “even trace amounts can be enough to cause a severe reaction.” T.F. was enrolled at Fairview Elementary School in fall 2010, after administrators told his parents that there was a “nut-free table” in the school, according to the lawsuit. The suit contends there was no nut-free table and FCASD’s plan to prevent T.F. from coming into contact with tree nuts was not detailed or sufficient.
The suit charges that rather than sitting at a nut-free table with other students in the cafeteria, T.F. was placed at a desk separated from the other students by two empty chairs, resulting in teasing and humiliation. When T.F.’s parents withdrew him from the school, the district filed truancy citations, according to the lawsuit.
Source: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 11/12/12, By Rich Lord
[Editor's Note: In March 2011, Legal Clips summarized a decision by a California federal district court in McCue v. South Fork Union Elementary Sch., in which the court dismissed a claim brought by the parents of a student with a nut allergy alleging that the school district’s refusal to provide the student with a nut free environment at school was not an actionable threat of violence or harm under the state’s civil code. The court concluded that none of the alleged statements by school officials regarding their refusal or inability to create a nut free environment in the school would be perceived by a reasonable person as threats of violence against the student.
In September 2010, Legal Clips summarized an article reported by CBS 3 Springfield, which reported that Frontier Regional School District (FRSD) in Massachusetts had adopted a policy that bans peanuts and all tree nut products. FRSD previously banned peanut products, but decided to extend the ban, creating a "nut safe policy," because of the recent rise in children being diagnosed with nut allergies.]