Dist. 50 leader: Food allergy law 'absurd'

Gurnee-based Woodland Elementary District 50 has approved creation of a food allergy management program, much to the chagrin of some board members who noted it's another unfunded state mandate.

Like other school systems, District 50 had no choice in the matter. School boards must have a policy in place by Jan. 1 based on the state's new student food allergy guidelines.

District 50 board member Catherine Campbell objected to the unfunded state mandate when she spoke at a recent meeting and labeled it “an absurd law.” She added Woodland is an educational institution and not a health care facility.

“I think it is the most ridiculous thing we have to do,” said Campbell, who abstained from voting on the policy that gained a board majority in favor.

Under the law, education and training are required for school personnel who encounter pupils with life-threatening food allergies. That training will include how to properly administer medication with an auto-injector.

Schools will need procedures for responding to life-threatening allergic reactions to food. In addition, the law says there must be a process to enact individual health care and food-action plans for every student with life-threatening food allergies.

District and building administrators, teachers, advisers, counselors and nurses are among the school personnel required to participate in the food allergy training, according to the law.

District 50 board President Lawrence Gregorash said while it's good for school officials to be in tune with students with food allergies, he questioned the state forcing requirements on local districts.

“I think members of this board are very concerned about children and they're very concerned about allergies,” Gregorash said.

Another requirement of the law is that an in-house training program for school personnel who work with pupils must be conducted at least every two years by someone possessing expertise in anaphylactic reactions and management.

“This isn't the dumbest thing I've seen in my 64 years ... but it sure ranks in the top 10,” Gregorash said of the law.