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.