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Mom rips school's lice policy
Tuesday, March 08, 2005
By Matt Bach • 810.766.6330

FLINT - Tonya Ladd was so fed up with the head lice problem at her daughter's school she put the bugs in an envelope and took them to a recent Flint Board of Education meeting.

She wasn't trying to infect the school board members, but her message was clear: She believes there's a lice problem at Washington Elementary School, and she's frustrated about it.

"All weekend we've been doing my daughter's head," said Ladd on Monday. "I'm at the end of my rope. I don't know what else to do. I'm going to contact a lawyer.

"I was trying to tell the school board that this is an epidemic."

School officials said they are investigating Ladd's claim that 11 of 21 students in her daughter's third-grade class have lice. Ladd said the problem began just before Christmas, and her daughter has gotten lice several times since then.

Ladd said every time they get rid of the lice, her daughter gets it again.

School officials, however, disagreed.

"We do not have an epidemic at Washington," said Sandra Junior, the district's coordinator of health services. "You always have a couple of students with head lice issues. It's a never-ending situation."

Junior expects to meet with Washington Principal Maria Hope to see what can be done.

In the meantime, Junior said the school follows the district's policy on lice:

  • Students with visible lice bugs are sent home if a parent can be contacted.
  • Students with nits (lice eggs) remain in the classroom, but parents are contacted and have seven days to treat the nits.
  • A child with nits can stay in the classroom as long as school officials see fewer eggs.

    "Our policy is in line with not only Genesee County Health Department, but also with the state of Michigan," Junior said.

    Flint's policy is actually more strict than the county's recommendation because Flint sends students with bugs home. County and state officials have said lice are a nuisance, not a health risk, so students with the parasites can stay in school.

    A 2002 Flint Journal report found that only two area districts - Flint and Davison - keep students in school if they have head lice. Flint changed its policy to the current one after parents and teachers complained. Davison still keeps students in school.

    Most area charter schools, such as Holly Academy in Oakland County, and Atherton, Goodrich and Westwood Heights school districts, send students with lice or nits home. They are allowed to return after successful treatment.

    Ladd said she wants Flint to change its policy and send students with nits home.

    "I know it's wrong, but I'm going to put my child to the side in the classroom," Ladd said. "I'm not going to allow her to sit on the carpet with the other kids. ... The same kids keep coming to class everyday not getting treated."


    © 2005 Flint Journal


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