A severe peanut allergy is a disability according to the Iowa Court of Appeals. That's what the court ruled Wednesday after a mother sued a Madrid child care center because it would not enroll her daughter due to the child's allergy.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics one in every 25 children suffers from a food allergy. Peanut allergies are among the most common. It's an illness public school employees are very familiar with.
"As a public school district, we take and serve all children so we make sure we put those accommodations in place," said Julie Jensen, Executive Director of Student Services for the Linn-Mar Community School District.
A private day care in Boone County decided not to enroll a young girl with a peanut allergy.
Wednesday the Iowa Court of Appeals ruled a peanut allergy is a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), which public schools must follow.
"It talks about what accommodations a child may need to be successful within the classroom and within the school environment," said Jensen.
That's why public school districts in Iowa have special procedures for kids with nut allergies.
"In our elementary buildings our food service is not serving anything with peanuts," said Jensen. "So we are peanut free on that case."
At Linn-Mar schools there's a special table in the cafeteria for kids with food allergies. That way those kids aren't exposed to anything that will cause them to have a reaction.
"Students may sit at those tables," said Jensen. "They also may invite some of their peers to sit with them as long as they know that the food that they're having for lunch is safe."
Other Iowa districts follow the same policy, including schools in Waterloo and Dubuque. Because school districts already follow ADA guidelines, they're not worried about the new ruling by the Iowa Court of Appeals.
This ruling would also apply to day camps and other recreational programs for children, which the Americans with Disabilities Act says can't discriminate against disabled kids.
The child care center lawsuit could be appealed to the Iowa Supreme Court.
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