Hyannis mom irate over weighty issue
Jasmine, a 4-foot tall, 66-pound, third-grader at Hyannis Elementary School, was sent home last week with a letter stating she was ''at risk of becoming overweight.''
Jasmine is one of 139 students at the school who came home last week with a height and weight screening referral letter. Though similar letters went to nearly half of the school's 295 students, Jasmine's mother, Vicki Elliott, said she is unhappy because the letters not only single out easily rattled youngsters for being ''fat,'' it's none of the school's business.
''We've had the same pediatrician for the past 17 years. If there was a problem, he would have told me,'' Elliott said. ''She probably can eat healthier but that's for the doctor and me to decide, not the school nurse.''
Nice... first they pound into kids' heads that they can't bully someone because of the way they look, then they take it upon themselves to do so.
Like it or not, however, a student's body weight is the school's business under a federal law passed last year that requires school districts across the country to develop and implement ''wellness'' policies.
School officials said Elliott is misunderstanding the intent of the letter, which, said school nurse Stacey Shakel, is meant merely as an ''educational tool.''
More evidence of the "nanny state" mentality of many public school districts... there are any number of them who believe in the cradle-to-grave education philosophy, that they're there to educate everyone of every age and that we'd all be better off if we'd let them do it.
The Barnstable school district conducts height and weight screening annually on all students from kindergarten up to eighth-grade. BMI is a formula that computes whether a person is too plump, thin or within a healthy weight range.
School officials said the height and weight screenings are just one piece of the district's developing wellness policy.
''We are required now by the state (Department of Public Health) to report students who are - or who are at risk of becoming - overweight or underweight,'' Shakel said.
REQUIRED TO REPORT STUDENTS WHO ARE AT RISK OF BECOMING OVERWEIGHT OR UNDERWEIGHT??????? Sorry for the screaming... this absolutely chaps my hide. But it's what you get when you hand over more and more of the caregiver responsibility to the government.
Beyond the question of her daughter's obesity risk, Elliot said she objects to the way the information was delivered.
''I don't agree with the policy, but if you're going to do it, don't send it home with the kids,'' she said.
Elliot is worried about the impact the letter will have on her daughter. Though Jasmine didn't read the entire letter, she understood enough to say that the letter made her feel angry because she doesn't consider herself to have a weight problem.
Of course she understood it... and now she very well MAY have a weight problem, now that it's been compounded by the emotional trauma of being singled out by the school nurse FOR BEING FAT. If this happens to any of MY children, I'm going to be in the face of whoever thinks they need to report my children to some faceless bureaucrat, and they're going to be reminded that THIS PARENT doesn't want anyone feeling responsible for my children's health needs except ME. Period. Now ease on back before somebody gets hurt. [taptaptap]
With 6,000 students enrolled in Barnstable public schools, Supt. Patricia Grenier said the district can't afford to mail out every parental notice.
As for the referral letter itself, Grenier said the purpose is to provide parents with precautionary information. And there's an educational pay-off, she said: ''Healthy children learn better.''
Oh how very maternalistic of you, Madame Superintendent. Go eat your fat-free chicken breast salad and let me take care of my own children's health. Snoop around in some lockers for marijuana or spray-glue or Kalashnikovs. That should keep you busy for a while.What are they going to send out a notice about next? Making sure parents know to put clean underwear on their children before sending them to school? They could give little written notices to that one boy in class that always smells funny. Then when he drops it accidentally and the jock bully picks it up and reads it and shows everyone in class and they all laugh at him, he can go home and buy a black trenchcoat.
Can you tell I'm angry?