• Is zero-tolerance at school for body scents going too far?

    Date: 12.23.10 | by Judge Tom.

    An Indiana mom doesn’t think so. Her son, J.Z., had to be treated at school on a few occasions and was taken to the hospital three times this past year for respiratory distress.

    Janice Zandi complained to the school and asked for a ban on fragrances including body scents, perfumes and colognes. The school responded by asking students to limit their use of sprays while at school, but didn’t go as far as Mrs. Zandi wanted.

    Crystalwood Naturals

    In November, 2010, she filed a lawsuit against the school claiming a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). This Act, passed in 1990, calls for public schools to accommodate all students with disabilities. J.Z.’s suit claims that allergists confirmed that when he is exposed to the mist of scented sprays his respiratory passages close restricting his ability to breathe.

    Other specialists commented that they have no documentation that scents cause actual allergic reactions. One doctor stated that it is possible to have a psychological response with vocal chord dysfunction instead of a true allergic reaction.

    The lawsuit claims that J.Z.’s condition qualifies as a disability under the ADA and therefore must be accomodated by the school district. The school responded that until there’s a clear cause and effect shown between J.Z.’s reaction and the scents that a complete ban on all products is unreasonable and difficult to enforce.

    What do you think? Allergic reactions to such foods as peanuts have been dealt with in schools across the country. Does this fall into the same category? Whose responsibility is it to cope with allergies–the parents, child or school? Are there other solutions to this problem short of a complete ban? What about J.Z. wearing a mask at school? Or home-schooling? Or learning techniques to relieve the stress that may be associated with J.Z.’s physical reactions?

    Judge Tom

    This post was written by Judge Tom. Judge Tom is the founder and moderator of AsktheJudge.info. He is a retired juvenile judge and spent 23 years on the bench. He has written several books for lawyers and judges as well as teens and parents including the recently published 'Teen Cyberbullying Investigated' (Free Spirit Publishing). When he's not answering teens' questions, Judge Tom can be found hiking, traveling and reading.

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