Sunday, July 05, 2015

British teachers can confiscate and KEEP pupils' unhealthy food under government rules for lunchbox inspections

Teachers are free to take - and keep - any item from pupils' lunchboxes if they think they are unhealthy or inappropriate, the government has said.

Parents were outraged last month when it emerged children had scotch eggs and a Peperami confiscated under health eating policies.

Now ministers have backed the move, giving staff freedom to 'confiscate, keep or destroy' anything deemed to break school policies and setting out the procedure for carrying out lunchbox inspections.

The row over packed lunches erupted after Cherry Tree Primary School, in Colchester, banned junk food from packed lunches.

Outraged parents said it was unfair as the school's menu offers unhealthy food including high sugar desserts like flapjacks, cookies and mousse.

Vikki Laws, of Colchester, said her daughter Tori, six, was not allowed to eat her Peperami sausage snack, which was confiscated and only returned at the end of the day with a note from teachers.

She said another parent was also told her child was not allowed to have scotch eggs in her lunch box.

Parents were also in uproar after Manley Park Primary School in Manchester banned healthy snacks such as cereal bars from children's packed lunches - despite offering pizza, chocolate fudge cake and fish fingers on its lunch menu.

Two mothers claimed staff confiscated a nut cereal bar and a packet of 100 per cent fruit chews because of their 'hidden sugar'.

It reignited the debate about the quality of school meals, at a time when NHS chiefs have warned obesity is the biggest threat to the nation's health.

But the Department for Education has backed the move, insisting schools are free to ban whatever they like from lunchboxes.

Governing bodies can decide whether to 'ban certain products to promote healthy eating'.

Schools are urged to consult parents first to 'ensure that any adopted policy is clearly communicated to parents and pupils'.

But education minister Lord Nash added: 'Schools have common law powers to search pupils, with their consent, for items.

'There is nothing to prevent schools from having a policy of inspecting lunch boxes for food items that are prohibited under their school food policies.

In response to a parliamentary question, he set out how a search of a lunchbox could be carried out and who should be witnesses.

'It would be good practice for the pupil to be present during an inspection and for a second member of staff to be present if any items are to be confiscated.

'If authorities and schools are concerned about their legal position, they should seek their own legal advice.'

Iain Austin, a Labour member of the education select committee, said: ‘With Britain tumbling down the international league tables and with a generation entering the work force with less literacy and numeracy than the generation retiring, you would have thought that teachers might have better things to do than rummaging through children’s crisps and fruit.’

Ukip MP Douglas Carswell said: ‘The Department for Education really must be missing Michael Gove. They are resorting to the kind of nanny state stunts that you would have expected from Tony Blair’s Labour government 15 years ago.

‘It should be entirely up to schools and there is something sinister this. Government should get out of people’s lunchboxes and focus on trying to fix the big things like immigration and the deficit.’

Official figures show that around 20 per cent of children aged four and five in reception classes are classed as overweight.  But the figure rises to around 33 per cent among Year 6 children by the time they leave primary school.


Illinois teacher fired from school after stepping on American flag in class

An Illinois school board reportedly fired the teacher who stepped on an American flag in class on May 15 at a local high school.

The Mattoon Journal Gazette reports that the Martinsville school board voted unanimously Thursday to dismiss English teacher Jordan Parmenter, effective immediately.

Parmenter, 26, told the paper Sunday he was present in the meeting, where he was addressed by the board and answered questions from all six of the board members. Parmenter didn’t speak further into the matter until he had a chance to speak with a union representative.

After the incident occurred, Parmenter was placed on leave for the remainder of the school year. He subsequently wrote a letter apologizing to the school.

Parmenter told the Journal Gazette earlier in June the incident occurred when he was teaching his English class on free speech. Parmenter used the small American flag on the corner of the room as a pointer.

A student called Parmenter out for using the flag as a pointer, saying it was disrespectful. Paramenter said he then dropped the flag on the floor and stepped on it to show an example of free speech as part of the lesson.

Parmenter apologized to the class and instantly regretted the decision he made.  "What I did was never intended as a show of disrespect to our country, to our veterans, or to anyone, nor would I ever do or say anything with that intention,” he told the paper. “I love my country and have nothing but the utmost respect for those who serve it."

In the interview with the Journal Gazette, Parmenter said from talking with the community, he believes they are willing to forgive him.

"I have loved working for Martinsville and have greatly enjoyed the opportunity to help our students achieve success," Parmenter said in his apology letter to the school. "I assure you that nothing of this nature will ever occur again."


Seattle 6th Graders Can’t Get a Coke at School, But Can Get an IUD

Middle and high school students can’t get a Coca-Cola or a candy bar at 13 Seattle public schools, but they can get a taxpayer-funded intrauterine device (IUD) implanted without their parents’ consent.

School-based health clinics in at least 13 Seattle-area public high schools and middle schools offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs), including IUDs and hormonal implants, to students in sixth-grade and above at no cost, according to Washington State officials.

LARCs are associated with serious side effects, such as uterine perforation and infection. IUDs, specifically, can also act as abortifacients by preventing the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The state and federally funded contraceptive services are made possible by Take Charge, a Washington State Medicaid program which provides free birth control to adults who are uninsured, lack contraceptive coverage, have an income at or below 260 percent of the Federal Poverty Level -- or, in this case, to teens who don’t want their parents to know they’re on birth control.

In an email exchange with the Washington State Health Care Authority and, a Take Charge spokesperson acknowledged that underage students are eligible for a “full array of covered family planning services” at school-based clinics if their parents meet the program’s requirements.

Take Charge added that “a student who does not want their parents to know they are seeking reproductive health services is allowed to apply for Take Charge using their own income, and if they are insured under their parents’ plan, the insurance would not be billed.”

When asked if a sixth grader could get an IUD implanted without parental consent, Take Charge told “We encourage all Take Charge providers to offer long-acting reversible contraceptives (LARCs) in their clinics. A young person does not need parental consent to obtain a LARC or any other contraceptive method...If the young person is not choosing abstinence, she would be able to select a LARC and have it inserted without parental consent.”

So while the students can’t get a soda from the cafeteria due to the Seattle School Board’s 2004 ban on junk food, they can get an IUD implanted at their school’s health center without their parents’ knowledge or permission. 

According to the Washington State Medicaid website, health centers at four middle schools and nine high schools in Seattle participate in the Take Charge program. Other Take Charge providers are located in close proximity to schools.

“We have public health departments, community-based clinics, college and university clinics, pediatric clinics, private physician practices, and family planning clinics, like Planned Parenthood” as providers, Take Charge said in the email exchange. A total of 38 Planned Parenthood clinics participate in the Take Charge program.

Seattle school-based clinics participating in the program include Aki Kurose Middle School, Washington Middle School, Denny Middle School, Madison Middle School, Franklin High School, Nathan Hale High School, Roosevelt High School, West Seattle High School, Garfield High School, Ingraham High School, Rainier Beach High School, South Lake High School, and Chief Sealth International High School.

“Because we’re at the school, which is so wonderful, we have access to the students, and they have access to us, pretty much any time,” said Katie Acker, a health educator at two high school clinics run by Neighborcare Health, which participates in the Take Charge program.

“We will send them a pass for whatever class is easiest or best to get out of. Of course, there are always students who are like, ‘I wanna miss IB Math!’ We are not gonna pull you out of IB Math — how about ceramics instead?”

Washington State law grants any individual “a fundamental right of privacy with respect to personal reproductive decisions.”

A 2014 Washington University study “document[ed] the activities of the reproductive health educator and trends in teen LARC uptake” at clinics participating in the Take Charge program in West Seattle High School and Chief Sealth International High School. School-based health providers, Neighborcare administrators, public health officials, and community partners were interviewed.

Researchers found that “school-based health providers often cited their lack of formal training not only in inserting or removing IUDs and contraceptive implants, but also with the procedures in general.”

One health care provider who was interviewed reportedly commented: “It’s still scary to begin putting them in. Scary meaning that we know the biggest complication risk come with the least experienced providers. So how do you take that leap and just go for it?”


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