EAST PRAIRIE, MO (KFVS) - Peanut allergies can be deadly and difficult to control.
According to Food Allergy Research and Education, the number of kids diagnosed with peanut allergies tripled between 1997 and 2008.
Here in the Heartland, the East Prairie School District is updating its plan on how to protect kids with peanut allergies. But some of the parents now say the new rules are unfair and confusing.
In October, the district revised its allergy policy to include a ban on peanuts and substances with peanuts on school property. But many parents of students at Doyle Elementary are struggling to comply with a policy they feel is harsh and inconsistent.
"Where do you draw the line?" asked parent David Aters. "What is good and what's not good?"
David Aters has two children at Doyle.
He said items from his son's lunch were sent home because they violated the peanut policy. He said more often than not, his children come home with uneaten food because of how he said the policy is enforced.
"And I'm asking why can't you eat your lunch? Are you talking to your friends or what? And they're like no they look through our lunch boxes and whatever time is leftover is when we get to eat. So they're taking part of their lunch to look through their lunch boxes," Aters said.
The sudden change in procedure has spurred a local movement in East Prairie. Several parents started a petition that has nearly 150 signatures from parents unhappy with the change.
Aters said they presented the signatures along with research at the school board meeting on Monday.
"We've asked them why now? There's kids last year that had allergies. Why implement it now? There's also a guy that came to me and said years ago his daughter had a peanut allergy and he went to the school board and asked them if they could do anything about it and he pretty much said no," Aters said.
School Board President Tim Wagner told us Wednesday they worked with the Missouri School Board Association to develop a policy that ensures the safety of every child.
Aters said he feels the change was made for one child of a prominent family in the community.
"There's other allergies out there. Why not cater to these kids too? Is it because they don't have a last name that's known in East Prairie? Is it because their mom and dad is not known or whatever? I mean they're average Joe's and I'm an average Joe. Even is even. Right is right. And wrong is wrong," he said.
We spoke with Superintendent Scott Downing who said there are several students in the district with the allergy. Aters said he doesn't want to do away with the policy, just alter it.
"We told the school board why don't you put a peanut free table on one side of the lunchroom and on the other side of the lunchroom put whoever wants to bring their lunch. And they're not near each other so there's no cross contamination," Aters said.
Aters said he's just one of many parents who feel the measures are extreme.
You can click here to view the policy in its entirety.