Highland Park mom says texting in medical emergency landed daughter in detention
For most parents, a book of baby photos helps them remember their child's "firsts," perhaps their child's first steps, or first words.
But for Stephanie Holan, that photo album also include reminders of the first time her daughter, Hallie, broke out into hives from severe allergic reactions.
"I've dealt with this since she was four days old," said Holan. "She's dealt with it for a lifetime."
Hallie is now 14 years old, an eighth-grader at Highland Park Middle. She takes a daily pill for her severe allergies and doesn't usually let them slow her down.
So when Holan received a text from her daughter just after the school lunch bell last week, she took it seriously.
It read, "Can you come pick me up? I have hives on my hands, and it's hard to swallow."
Those are signs, Holan said, of anaphylactic shock.
"Depending on her reaction, if her throat closes, it could be deadly," said Holan. "I've had to physically lay on top of my daughter while she got four epinephrine shots at one time because her throat was already closed."
So Holan rushed to pick her daughter up from school and bring her home to treat her with a series of pills and lotions that pack their medicine cabinet. Holan said, over the years, they've developed routines to treat each symptom fast.
"My daughter knows the person who can handle this the most quickly is me," said Holan.
But when Hallie went back to school, she got detention for using her phone.
The district said there's a new policy this year at Highland Park Middle in which students are not supposed to have their phones with them during the school day, meant to limit distractions in class.
Instead they're supposed to leave them with their advisory teacher. If they feel sick, they're expected to tell an adult at the school. A spokesman said there are two nurses at the school, and teachers are trained to handle allergy attacks. He also said administrators can pre-approve exceptions to the cell phone rule for medical reasons.
But Holan firmly believes, her daughter shouldn't have gotten in trouble for texting a parent during a medical emergency.
"When you start putting the health and safety of my child at risk at the sake of a very strict rule, that's when you have a problem," she said. "Craft a better policy, and use your better judgment."
Holan said, her daughter did not go to the nurse or tell an adult because she feared they wouldn't take her symptoms seriously.
Holan is considering legal action. But what she really wants, is an apology.
Highland Park ISD's full statement reads:
"We are not at liberty to discuss the discipline or health issues related to an individual student.
After feedback from parents, teachers, and students, McCulloch Intermediate/Highland Park Middle School modified its cell phone policy this year in order to preserve the learning environment and eliminate unnecessary distractions. Under the new policy, cell phones and other communication devices, are "parked" (stored) with students' advisory teachers as soon as the first bell rings each morning, and may then be picked up at the end of the day.
Parents have overwhelmingly supported this change and, according to administrators and teachers, it has made a positive impact in the school's culture and productivity of students.
If students feel sick or experience a health issue, they are to tell an adult, such as a teacher or administrator, so that they can be sent to the clinic to receive medical treatment if necessary. The clinic is staffed by two registered nurses and is centrally located in the building.
In addition, there are procedures in place to keep students safe should they display signs of an allergic reaction. All teachers have been trained to administer epinephrine or Benadryl, located in three places throughout the building, if such an event occurs.
Administrators have conferred with parents to approve limited exceptions on campus for students who have ongoing medical issues requiring them to keep a cellphone with them during the day.
- Jon Dahlander, Highland Park ISD"