Fox Chapel nut allergy lawsuit dismissed by judge

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A federal judge Tuesday dismissed a lawsuit 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 claimed that a student identified as T.F. attended Fairview Elementary School, where officials wouldn’t sign on to a detailed plan to prevent exposure to trace amounts of walnuts, almonds, hazelnuts, cashews, pistachios and Brazil nuts. The district instead placed T.F. at a lone 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 for truancy.

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.

The district’s refusal to meet all of the family’s demands regarding the lunchroom arrangement does not mean that it was deliberately indifferent to T.F.’s needs, the judge wrote. The truancy charge did not seem to be retaliation for the family’s insistence on accommodations, he wrote.

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