Judge throws out lawsuit against Fox Chapel schools

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A federal judge today dismissed a lawsuit filed last year against the Fox Chapel Area School District by the family of a student whose tree-nut allergy resulted in isolation in the lunch room.

The lawsuit by the family of a student identified only as T.F. suggested that Fairview Elementary School officials wouldn't agree with them on the planks of a plan to educate the young child in a way that would prevent exposure to even trace amounts of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios and Brazil nuts.

The district, for instance, placed T.F. at a desk in a lunchroom otherwise filled with round tables. The family also argued that when they pulled T.F. out of the school, Fox Chapel school officials repeatedly dragged them before a magistrate on a truancy charge.

U.S. District Judge Arthur J. Schwab found that the district "was attempting to work with plaintiffs for several months even prior to the start of the school year, and had proposed approximately four [accommodation] plans, all of which were rejected" by T.F.'s family.

"Fox Chapel chose to deny the request for specific accommodation on the placement of a different shaped table in the lunch room," the judge wrote, but that falls far short of showing that the school was deliberately indifferent to T.F.'s needs.

The truancy charge did not seem to be retaliation for the family's insistence on accommodations for T.F., the judge wrote.

Rich Lord: rlord@post-gazette.com, 412-263-1542 or Twitter @richelord

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