School board official says to “just shoot” children with food allergies

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Many parents of food-allergic children are horrified by video from a Clawson Public Schools board meeting on Nov. 10 in Clawson, MI.

The discussion is around food allergies, a new-ish and complicated topic, to be sure. Someone points out that there’s at least one food-allergic child in each classroom in Clawson’s Kenwood Elementary School. The board member’s response?

“Well, you should just shoot them.”

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream (start around the 24:00 mark)

Trustee Linda Grossmann makes her statement, and there’s laughter. Maybe some of it is nervous laughter, but it’s laughter.

It sounds like it should be the start of a joke, you know one of those, “A priest, a rabbi, and an atheist walk into a bar …” kind of jokes. But it’s not. In the worst way. It. Is. Not.

She said it in response to an individual’s statement about the fact that there is now at least one food-allergic child in each classroom at Kenwood Elemeontary School, so birthday treats (in food form) are no longer allowed at Kenwood. Yes, she said “No,” and put her hands up after the statement, to indicate she was kidding. But even Superintendent Monique Beals says they were “stunned and horrified” to hear Ms. Grossmann’s “joke.”

The clip was posted on the Honesty for Clawson Schools Facebook page 12 days after the comment was made. Local parents were pushing for her to be fired immediately, and many want the rest of the school board replaced as well — since they all laughed, and no one seemed to rebut her statement. Ms. Grossmann submitted her letter of resignation on November 25.

As parents of food allergic children; as parents; as responsible adults, the Scratch or Sniff team is horrified at this statement. Tiffany put it best: “To know and hear this vitriolic attitude on a regular basis is one thing; to hear it straight from the mouth of a board member pledged to the best interests of educating my child is something completely different.”

There is a double standard in play here, as well. If a child said such a thing in school, he or she would be disciplined. Likely suspended. (Pointing his thumb and his index finger like a gun landed a 10 year old boy in suspension in in March.) He or she would be accused of bullying and threatening someone.

This is not just about children with food allergies. This is about a clearly broken system that is incredibly flippant about the education and safety of our youth. Given the gigantic number of school shootings we’ve seen in the U.S. since Columbine, and the escalation of these shootings since Sandy Hook, we have to wonder how Ms. Grossman could say such a thing.

We send our children to school every day trusting that their teachers, administrators, and yes, even their school boards all have our children’s best interest, education, and safety in mind. No one should shake that trust. If Ms. Grossmann would like to “just shoot them,” joke or not, perhaps she was elected into the wrong line of work.

Scratch or Sniff staff has reached out to members of the board for comment, but have not received a response.

Staff Writers

This post has been a collaborative effort from the Scratch or Sniff team. Contributors include Heather Laura Clarke, Tiffany Self, Alayna Wetherhead, and Roo Ciambriello.

5 Comments to School board official says to “just shoot” children with food allergies

  1. Harriet Schulpius

    What a slap in the face. Some people just do not know when to keep there comments to themselves.

  2. Denise

    I have a gorgeous, well liked, well rounded 13 year old daughter. She is a gifted athlete, playing AAU basketball, running cross country and swimming. She does well at all sports. She is also a musician, placed in regional honor band for the baritone and playing the guitar. She is an amazing member of her community, being on leadership committees for her school as well as National Junior Honor Society. She has never gotten a B, and plans to be a trauma center doctor. She is funny and caring and people (her peers and even ours) like her. By the way she also has a peanut allergy. She has never lived in a bubble, traveling around the world and eating all those places. We were diligent in our efforts to communicate her needs and people have ALWAYS responded well. THANK GOD our experience was not with this school board. I am embarassed for them as we teach our children empathy and compassion for those around us and they apparently have none.

  3. El

    How about we just shoot her for being ugly and distracting from the beauty in the world? Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha

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