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School Principal Mocks Nut Allergies in Letter

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Is this okay?

Momlogic's Julie: Wow, if my kid went to Litchfield Elementary School in Arizona right now, I would be mad as hell.

Ron Sterr

A letter sent home on Jan. 26 with second graders attending Litchfield Elementary School in Arizona , written by principal Ron Sterr, has caused a major uproar. And once you read it, you'll see why.

Sterr says he wrote a joke letter in response to caustic comments made by "an individual" and a teacher accidentally sent it home. He says he openly opposes the views expressed in the "mocking" letter he wrote.

The letter reads:

Dear Parents,

Turn off the TV for once and pay attention.

Regarding math:

The math we do is really easy. If your child is either too lazy or too stupid to finish it in class, I'm sending it home so that you can work with them and judge for yourself whether it is laziness or idiocy that inhibits your child's progress. We do part of it in class. How on earth they can NOT finish it is beyond me, but please help them with the part that we do NOT do in class. If your child is one of the mediocre few who excels on the homework, please congratulate them with a warm handshake or perhaps a halfhearted high-five, since finishing this homework is the equivalent of a twenty-year-old wanting to be congratulated for knowing how to tie his shoes.

Regarding Field trip lunches:
We have a peanut allergy in our room and a few in second grade in general. Because of this, everyone must eat nut-free foods. We also have a child who is mourning their puppy who got run over last week by a garbage truck, so we ask that no one wear anything resembling puppy fur, or that is red and flat. Further, one of our students has a nervous tic that causes him to slap himself in face several times a minute. In order to help this child not feel conspicuous, we ask that your child imitate a crazed masochist for the length of this field trip.

The principal has now been suspended. Here is the school's response:

On Wednesday, January 26th, an inappropriate parent letter was sent home with a second grade class at Litchfield Elementary School. The letter contained disparaging remarks about students which were unacceptable. The letter was authored by the principal, who was originally not forthcoming with parents in taking responsibility for his actions. The principal has called each parent individually to render an apology and take responsibility. The school district has placed the principal on administrative leave and has removed him from the principalship. Further disciplinary action is pending. The Litchfield School District renders its most sincere apology to our students, parents, community and staff for this incident. We are taking specific steps to remedy this situation.


I personally would be beyond mad if our school principal sent home such an insensitive letter, whether he was joking or not. I would be especially angry if my kid had a nut allergy or a nervous tic.

Thankfully, my kids go to a public school that is led by a principal I admire and respect. If a letter like this came home, I would be speechless.

Do YOU think this guy should be fired ... or do you think everyone is over-reacting? What would you do if you got this letter?

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96 comments so far | Post a comment now
Laurie February 3, 2010, 6:11 PM

He only wrote what all teachers are thinking. It’s not that he doesn’t love the kids or his job, but it does get tiring listening to parents complain that their child isn’t doing their homework, getting too much, or yes that nobody in the room can eat a pbj sandwich because their child is allergic. I am a parent and a teacher and although it was in bad taste to send this letter out, the content was meant to be funny. When you are involved in parent “drama” all day long you need to make light of it.

Rachelle February 3, 2010, 6:28 PM

This man should definitely be fired. If not, I would be looking into another school for my child, even if I have to pay extra to send him to one outside of our school district. There’s no way someone like this should be directing a school. He obviously has a problem with children in general to be so cynical toward them, or maybe he really hates his job, in which case he won’t mind being fired, right? Regardless, even with a personal apology, I would not tollerate this man as principal of my son’s school.

LH February 3, 2010, 6:36 PM

I sometimes write “letters” to blow off steam when I have got to the end of my rope and need to vent. We all hit that point sometimes. I would not want anyone to read those letters!! I actually exxagerate my feelings when I write because it helps to get it all out of my system, and then I rip up the letter and when I throw it out, I throw the feelings out with it and feel much better! Obviously, I do not really mean the things I write. A lot of people do this. Sometimes you’ve had all you can take and you need to vent. This poor guy should have ripped up his letter before anyone else could see it! I actually feel sorry for him, how embarrassing is this. He never meant anyone to see the letter and I doubt he really meant the stuff he said. If he had written it and thrown it out, it would be better than getting grouchy and upset with the kids. Being a teacher is one of the most stressful and frustrating jobs there is. I don’t think the letter was that bad, and not a big deal.

Laura February 3, 2010, 6:47 PM

Fire him. The thought that a school district would consider anything OTHER than firing him is inconceivable. You get fired for far less in the corporate world. Yet here in the US, public schools consistently protect and enable the biggest losers. Send this guy to the unemployment line and brace yourselves for the lawsuits. I’m a parent of young children. If I got that letter, I’d sue. I’m sure many parents will do just that.

Rachelle February 3, 2010, 6:49 PM

I wish I would have read the comments before posting the 1st time. I’m not a “modern,” liberal type mom, and I don’t agree with a lot of the new things schools are implementing today. However, I still would not be happy receiving this letter. First of all these are SECOND graders. They are young, very young. If it were high school students, I may see more of the humor in it. But a 2nd grader having problems in math, sounds like an opportunity for teachers AND PARENTS (of course) to step in and try to find a way to help them understand. He’s calling these kids lazy, idiots, stupid, but what if some of them are having problems, not because of laziness, but because of learning disabilites, or problems at home. Did the principal consider those things before he wrote his “funny” letter? And although I agree it’s stupid to have to keep peanut butter out of your kids lunch because someone else has an allergy, the comments about the kids with the puppy, and the tic were just unnecessary. The letter may have been meant for the parents, but really, do you think the kids don’t look at that stuff? That’s why I think he should be fired. Oh, and someone mentioned a teacher who should have read the letter before sending it out. Maybe someone did, and was pissed off by it too. Maybe they “accidently” mixed it up with another letter. Could happen. Maybe the guy was a jerk.

Alle February 3, 2010, 7:04 PM

The classwork section I found hysterically true. My partner is a Maths Teacher! Though the kids are really improving. Parents don’t spend enough time with their kids. We home school. Go figure!

The Peanut allergy, it’s true, in England, you can’t send kids to school with a zillion foods because someone has an alergy. It’s a one page list at some schools. Why bother sending your kids to school!

The Puppy Squish. Bit of bad taste but the point is valid. How over protective do we have to be of ourselves as adults and of our children. Oh I noticed no one picked up that the THEME was ‘over protecting’. Parents today, and I’m one, and I’m guilty, over protect our kids from all the things WE didn’t like. And WOW did we not like a lot of things - but then we send out kids to school to for educashun by someone else.

The Tic - It’s funny but could be taken as disparaging. Kids with such problems often hone in on their trait and take it to their advantage. I’ve worked with people who have all kinds of difference, physically, mentally, pshyiologically - we have to laugh at ourselves a little, with respect. If we all ‘act up’ a bit, we can share the moment, rather than look and stare. Bring back the child within!

I don’t think the principal should be sacked. I think the better course would have been a followup letter explaining the first one - a wake up call - the Principal wants the kids, and the parents to be proud.

The last principal at a school my kids tried lied to me 3 times in 2 weeks. Least this guy is blunt!

Aboutdangtime February 3, 2010, 8:01 PM

It’s about dang time someone said what we all are thinking!!! I went rounds with my childs school because they isolated her for bringing a PB&J sandwich for lunch!I have allergies, some very severe but I do not expect special accomidation for them nor do I expect anyone else to not have/do something because of it. IT IS CALLED ADAPTING TO YOUR SURROUNDINGS…not the surroundings adapting to you!!! Stop trying to get sympathy from others because of your own inadequacy! As for the letter? Bad taste…yes! Out of line? A BIG NO!!! It is needed to open up some, and I stress some, parents eyes!!!

Anonymous February 3, 2010, 8:46 PM

I’m surprised that more people don’t agree with him. Why all the outrage? First of all, kids DO need to take more responsibility to get their work done. And he’s right - people overreact to the stupidest things. Just because one child has a peanut allergy doesn’t mean everyone else has to drop everything to accommodate it…

DAD February 3, 2010, 8:49 PM

My daughter attends this school and I’m not in the least disappointed in Mr. Sterr. I’ve seen him acting very professionally at assemblies, concerts, fall carnivals, etc. Actually, I think he’s very good at what he does and got a good chuckle, along with a dose of reality by the letter.

This was obviously someone trying to get him in trouble. If naive people think for a second that joke emails like this don’t circulate in EVERY industry, they need to take their heads out of their cactus. This was so obviously a forwarded email that wasn’t intended to reach anyone outside the confines of the school.

In an unprecedented move to show that no one proof-reads and/or approves what gets sent home to our kids, my daughter brought home a letter on Tuesday that began like this…

Dear Parents,

Due to personnel reasons, Mr. Ron Sterr will no longer be planning Principal for Mabel Padgett Elementary school.

***Yes, it reads “personnel reasons”***

Anonymous February 3, 2010, 8:52 PM

I’d give him a high five. Best principle ever.

To Anonymous February 3, 2010, 8:58 PM

Or is it “principal”?

patois February 3, 2010, 10:00 PM

It’s a very funny letter. But he is so totally toast. And, frankly, rightfully so. But I have to wonder who hated him so much she/he had the letter sent out? That’s no accident, my friends.

Tanya February 3, 2010, 10:45 PM

Oh, for crying out loud people! Try to have a little empathy for the man…he is the principle of a public school in Arizona-one of the lowest ranked states in the country! He’s probably fed up with parents who dope their kids up for being ADD (meaning they plop their kids in front of the TV instead of making them get off their arses) and parents who play the ‘my child is perfect, blah, blah, blah’. I live in AZ…the schools aren’t great-and it’s not for a lack on the teachers part! When teachers are afraid of the students then the parents should be paddled right along side of their kids! And, yes, I am a parent! It’s lack of respect and accountability-not the kids fault-the parents are to blame!

Tanya February 3, 2010, 10:49 PM

Let me add one more thing. My kids school has an entire class devoted to ‘nut free’. There are 4 kids in that class. And due to possible unknown allergies, it is requested that parents not send peanut butter sandwiches to school! Shouldn’t we be wondering why there is such a huge allergy problem now?

Rita February 4, 2010, 12:11 AM

Ok, what if you saw your child break out in a horrible rash and had trouble breathing the 1st time you made him a pb sandwich when he was 1 year old?

It’s real, and it’s dangerous.

Don’t mock the kids for having a potentially fatal allergy.

Maggie February 4, 2010, 1:32 AM

I found it funny and agree with Lora that he was probably just venting. He must got LOADS of parents asking for special treatment and complaining over every little thing, it would drive me up the wall. I admire teachers and anyone who has to deal with children and their parents on a daily basis, I couldn’t do it as I couldn’t put up with the amount of complaining people do nowadays.

I’ve written emails when angry and then deleted them as they are not meant to be sent but the process of writing it has really helped me calm down and I say things I don’t really mean about people I care about in the heat of the moment, so for this man to have a bit of a moan to help him get through the day, so what.

I don’t think his comments were personal or maybe even specifically about children at his school, I just think they were used to get his point across, that people really do moan about anything whilst not doing a great deal to help their children themselves like helping with homework.

We go around firing people at the drop of a hat, changing someone’s whole life all because they said something a little non pc, a world gone mad and getting madder every day.

Sara February 4, 2010, 4:53 AM

The teacher who sent that out to the parents is the one that is the problem. That’s obviously a joke and she obviously sent it out to get her boss in trouble.

As for the letter it’s hysterical.

Czuklz February 4, 2010, 5:30 AM

This is obviously sarcasm, and not intended for the parents. Punishment should be reserved for the individual who disseminated it. Mr. Sterr has a right to express himself to a limited audience, the teacher had no right to make this communication public.

Rachel February 4, 2010, 5:45 AM

Wah wah wah. I agree with the principal. It was a joke and not intended to go out. That a teacher would read it (or wouldn’t read it, perhaps) and not make the connection that it was a joke and NOT to send it out says more about the teacher than the principal. Some parents can be such whiners, including some of the posters before me. Funny, the whining never seems to be about the school not doing enough to challenge their children, but always an excuse about why their children should be exempt from the very basic performance standards of the school, or why the entire environment of the school needs to change to suit the needs of their child (in the case of allergies, etc.).

Aleise February 4, 2010, 5:55 AM

Hilarious! At least we know how he really feels. He must have been having a bad day. :)

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