I’ve worked for a few years in the public education system filling a number of roles, ranging from substitute teacher to teacher assistant and student teacher, and one thing I can attest to is the omnipresent nature of allergies.
While you shouldn’t take any allergy lightly, the biggest concern for me — since I often found myself stuck with lunch duty or supervising the littler set — was food allergies. Often times, peanut allergies — the most common — were the ones to watch. Adults like to think that children come with a built in awareness of their limitations, but they don’t, and because of that, it’s our job to make sure that they don’t accidentally expose themselves to something that can trigger an allergic reaction owing to a lack of experience.
Thus, comments like the one made by Linda Grossman don’t help. WXYZ Detroit reports that the embattled school board member is being forced to resign following an off-hand joke made about children with food allergies during a school board meeting, saying “well, you just shoot them.”
Grossman is the bankruptcy court case administrator, and was appointed to her position on the Clawson Public School’s Board of Ed in 2013. She submitted a formal letter of resignation in the wake of the uproar that arose after a clip of her off-hand, jib remark was posted online. Grossman made the remark about the 20 Kenwood Elementary students who have food allergies.
The Superintendent, Monique Beels, said that she attended the meeting; she noted that everyone was “stunned and shocked.”
She noted that Grossman isn’t the type of person who would mean that kind of comment. However, it’s actions, not intent, that the rest of us see or hear. And the actions led to a Facebook and social media campaign against Grossman, regardless whether or not she’s the type of person who would mean it.
The Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Connection Team (FAACT) sent the school district a letter of complaint, noting that, “In today’s times of school shootings and the increased awareness of bullying and the effects of bullying, it is astounding to hear any person in authority make such a cavalier, insensitive, and offensive “joke” about students with disabilities. We do not expect that such a remark would have been tolerated, much less laughed at, if it were made about students with other disabilities.”
A spokesperson for the network that the resignation is appropriate, and that it sends the message insensitive comments won’t be tolerated, even if they are intended to be a joke.
You can read the school board statement below:
You can read the FAACT letter below:
You can watch the WXYZ Detroit Report below: