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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
Allie February 4, 2010, 6:02 AM

First off, it doesn’t matter if the principle was kidding around or not. The man is supposed to be a professional (the same goes for the person who sent the letter out!) It’s a shame that professionalism has taken a back seat to being rude/condescending in the name of ‘humor’. These are people who are supposed to be educators, not comedians. I wish I could say that I was surprised at the number of people who leaped to his defense. There was a time when professional people were expected to behave PROFESSIONALLY. Apparently that is now passe. Does anyone think of how that sort of letter would affect a young kid who was curious enough to read it? Kids of that age certainly can understand that their principle (someone who they should be able to go to and trust) is saying mean things. It doesn’t matter that he was intending it to be humorous because a child of that age isn’t yet able to discern that something is sarcastic.

As a health care professional as well as someone who has experienced severe allergic reactions I’m appalled at how many people make light of kids with allergies. Peanut allergies are usually among the most severe. This isn’t like allergies that cause sneezing or watery eyes. Most often it causes severe hives, swelling of the eyes and at the most severe, anaphylactic shock. How would you like to be the person to explain to the parent who’s child has died that their child should have “adapted” (as one person suggested) because YOUR child’s desire for a PBJ was more important??

Had this sort of thing happened when I was a child, or even when my kids were little (they are in high school and college now) the principle would have been fired and the teacher who sent the letter out would have been reprimanded and possibly fired. What used to be inexcusable behavior is now seen as somehow funny. No wonder so many young people don’t take their jobs seriously with this sort of role model!

Natalie February 4, 2010, 6:05 AM

Get over it!! It was written as a joke! We all have our ways of coping with the idiots that are sometimes the children’s parents this was his way. Yes the nut allergies comments was a little out of line BUT as far as the rest of it he’s right…parents need to be more involved with their kids. I teach elementary and I understand some people work multiple jobs, etc. and don’t have time but other parents just don’t care and it is beyond frustrating to deal with these parents…but just as frustrating is the polar opposite of the none caring parent - helicopter parents - because they are all over you about every little thing. Whoever the teacher was that was stupid enough to send this home needs her head checked!! Common sense says this isn’t something that needed to be sent home….

mom of allergy boy February 4, 2010, 8:59 AM

I am shocked by some of the comments. Children with severe peanut allergies can go into shock and die. death. the big D word. Some of you parents would rather not have the inconvenience of making your child eat something besides a PB&J sandwich (there are tons of nut butter substitutes)than risk another child’s health. When did we become that kind of society. When did you become so selfish

maeby February 4, 2010, 9:00 AM

pretty funny. lighten up.

Jade February 4, 2010, 10:19 AM

I wish I could get away with saying this. Abundance of sarcasm aside, what that note said is rather true.

friend February 4, 2010, 11:00 AM

this is obviously a joke… i was expecting something truly serious but this is very funny. people are truly over-reacting to humor and sarcasm. i think the main thing is they were offended by the math homework, which is kinda true. i liked the one about the tick especially… LOL

Anonymous February 4, 2010, 12:18 PM

hahahahahahahaha this is the funniest thing I have read in a while. Especially since he was OBVIOUSLY not serious.

Rachel February 4, 2010, 1:04 PM

@Mom of Allergy Boy - “selfish” is an easy word to throw around. With food allergies, particularly nut allergies, your putting your child’s life into the hands of other people - even other children. Your child’s well-being and safety is at the mercy of every other person in that school following what can be a cumbersome set of protocols to ensure there’s no exposure/cross-contamination. Seems “selfish” to me that you would put him in a situation like that to begin with, since even the best intentions of a school to prevent exposure could go awry with one child eating a granola bar on the bus and touching the same water fountain used by your child. Why not homeschool him if he has such a life or death condition? I’m just saying…

Talon February 4, 2010, 3:41 PM

Yet another reason I’m happy to homeschool.

Alexis February 4, 2010, 5:50 PM

Hey. My little brother and little sister go to this school. I went to this school. I personally have met this guy, although I haven’t talked to him extensively, he didn’t seem like this nicest of guys. I don’t have a sibling in the class where this letter was sent home, but I have read it. I’d be mad if I was a parent especially. He’s ridiculous and an awful principal.

Archer February 4, 2010, 7:34 PM

i went to this school and I have a brother that goes there. Heck, I go to school with his daughter in my homeroom. He’s been doing a pretty good job lately with all the things he has to juggle around. What I’m really wondering is why so many people are so mad at him when no one’s focusing their view on the teacher of the 2nd graders who had no emotional value whatsoever to SEND IT TO EVERYONE.

Lee February 4, 2010, 11:35 PM

The elementary school where I work needs a new principal. I wish this gentleman would apply. I thought the letter was hilarious. Thank you Holly (mother of child with autism and touretts) for getting this. This letter did not denigrate anyone. It was a comment on the absurdity of what the modern elementary school children and staff are asked to do on a daily basis. I work with a an autistic child who used to spit, kick and throw shoes at staff and worse. Laughing about it helped us be loving and guide his behavior in a more acceptable direction.

Anonymous February 5, 2010, 2:42 PM

HA HA HA HA

kate February 6, 2010, 7:25 PM

I loved it. Good for him. I know a family that has to homeschool because, while their district is peanut-free, it is not free of the allergen that could kill their children. Some parents act like their child is the only one on the planet and, really, shame on them.

deaddrift February 7, 2010, 7:58 PM

I am a teacher and that is hysterical. It’s too bad that offending strangers is now a capital offense in this country.

Anonymous February 8, 2010, 3:28 AM

what a bunch of wankers.
He’s totally right.

Stephanie February 12, 2010, 12:33 PM

I have a child with a severe peanut allergy. Believe me this is hard enough to watch what he eats and worry when he is in another person’s care. This is a life threatening condition and should not be taken lightly. We don’t want our child to stand out or cause others to miss out on things like certain foods on field trips but we did not choose or cause this condition and shouldn’t be the but of his “joke”. Yes, we all get frustrated at times but this was an inappropriate way to vent that frustration and if he didn’t realize this when he wrote it, he shouldn’t be trusted to make sound judgments regarding our children.

Ryan February 13, 2010, 3:27 PM

Dude. He was obviously joking. That’s about as ridiculous and over the top as it gets. I can’t believe people actually took the letter seriously. Are you all really that humorless and oblivious?

Anonymous March 3, 2010, 8:58 AM

The sooner this country remembers its about TEACHING our next generation, NOT about making sure they feel good about themselves in the process the better off we would be. If this princpal were at my kid’s school, I would thank him for the laugh.

Fiona March 7, 2010, 1:31 PM

I thought this letter was hilarious. Particularly the part regarding homework.

Tomorrow (Monday) I’m going to walk into school and ask for homework. The kids are going to be slow dragging it out. They’ll forget where their worksheets are. And when I open the books to grade them, I’ll find at least one of them is still a blank canvas waiting to be filled up. The sad thing is that I know which kids these will be, and that talking to their parents will acheive nothing because it’ll be the same excuses as usual.

I like my students, I want them all to do well, and I always encourage them to do their best. But the homework comments do ring true. What makes it worse is that I do not forget about undone homework - these kids who don’t do it have to do it at breaktime instead, therefore cutting down the amount of time they have to go off and play with their friends. They know that, their parents know that, and my school knows that. That’s the classroom rule, but for some reason their parents are happy for it all to be forgotten about at home in favour of watching TV or playing games. Nobody wins in this situation, and this letter, quite frankly, makes me happy to know that others feel the same way about it.

The rest of the letter all made me laugh too. Obviously the principal didn’t mean it, it was a bit of satire to shrug off some frustration. As for the teacher who sent it out, well, she was obviously in a bit of a spiteful mood.

Show a bit of forgiveness and let it pass. If his teaching has always been up to standard and his conduct above reproach then let it be bygones. We’ve all made mistakes. Most of us have had the good fortune to be allowed to keep them private from the world. Some, however, get named and shamed all over the internet.

Fiona


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