For Kelsey Hough, a tiny peanut is a big problem. So big, in fact, that the 26-year-old student says her life-threatening peanut allergy forced her to abandon her college program.
During Hough's first year at the University of Washington, Tacoma, signs posted on classroom doors stressed the severity of her allergy. But the signs, which read "peanut/nut-free classroom" in bold, capital letters, have since been removed.
"I felt like I'd just been kicked out of school," Hough said of the school's decision to remove the signs and replace them with a letter, written by Hough, politely asking classmates for their cooperation. "I knew that I wouldn't be safe."
The school claims the original signs were "unenforceable," and that they can't ensure Hough's safety.
People with severe food allergies can qualify for services through the Americans With Disabilities Act, according to Charlotte Collins, vice president of policy and programs for the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. In December 2012, the Department of Justice reached a settlement with Lesley University in Cambridge, Mass., requiring that the school make reasonable accommodations for a student with a severe allergy to gluten, also known as celiac disease.
OK, so my question is, what are "reasonable accommodations" in this situation?
Obviously the courts will eventually have to rule on that if there's a lawsuit.
I'm not sure how putting up "please don't bring peanut" signs does anything... if she's that severely allergic to peanuts that even airborne particles are a problem, there IS no way the university could keep her safe.
We had a bit of a row at my son's elementary school over this issue with a kid in a class that had severe peanut allergies and they requested parents not send food to school that contained peanuts, but I always thought that was an unreasonable request. As the school said, it's virtually unenforceable.
Is this girl going to withdraw from life too? Is she going to force her future employer to have a peanut free workplace?