Peanuts are no laughing matter for Kelsey Hough, a college student at the University of Washington, Tacoma. Her first year in college, the university took her allergy very seriously and posted signs on classroom doors warning of her severe allergy to peanuts, including her throat potentially closing up and losing the ability to breathe. However, by her second year, all of the signs were removed and Kelsey was asked to write a letter that the school distributed to her classmates asking for their cooperation.
Nevertheless, Kelsey knew that the letter wouldn't be enough and that she wouldn't be safe at school. Ultimately, she was forced to drop out of college. The school claims that the signs were "unenforceable" and that it would be impossible for them to keep her safe, although she is a good student. She acknowledges that while she wasn't "forced" out of school, the school's response did make it nearly impossible for her to stay.
Compared to the prompt and perhaps extreme reaction of a high school to a student's apparent allergy to Axe Deoderant spray, you would think that the University of Washington, Tacoma could've done a bit more to help Kelsey. In fact, students with severe allergies can qualify under the Americans With Disabilities Act for special services, according to the vice president of the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. The Justice Department also recently reached a settlement with Lesley University in Cambridge, MA, requiring the school to make reasonable accomodations for a student with severe Celiac disease. As for the University of Washington Tacoma, they say that they hope that they can reach a compromise with Kelsey that would allow her to come back to school, but that they cannot guarantee her safety all over campus.
recently named in the 2009 edition of Best Lawyer's In America, David Mittleman has been representing seriously injured people since 1985. A partner with Church Wyble PC—a division of Grewal Law PLLC—Mr. Mittleman and his partners focus on medical malpractice, wrongful death, car accidents, slip and falls, nursing home injury, pharmacy/pharmacist negligence and disability claims.