A weighty issue is being addressed in letters sent home to parents
By: CJ Cassidy
SCOTT CITY, Mo. - How would you react if school leaders told you your child didn't measure up to the norm? Those concerns over body weight are causing a bit of a stir among some Scott City parents.
School leaders sent letters home informing parents their children were either over or underweight. Some parents seem offended by the very suggestion their kids might not be as healthy as the schools say they should be. Others think it's not the school's place to tell them what a child's weight should be.
Meanwhile, school leaders say they have their student's best interests at heart. Besides serving up a healthy meal at lunchtime, school leaders in Scott City have also taken it upon themselves to dish out advice to some parents with health referral forms.
In addition to vision, hearing and dental results, the forms also list student's height, weight and body mass index.
The message says "testing results are outside the normal range and need to be evaluated by a specialist."
One of those forms went to Lisa Ellison - the mother of a 13-year-old.
"I thought it was kind of funny they thought he was overweight. He's a big child five foot six, tall as I am, and he's in the 8th grade," Ellison says, adding "He was upset about it. He said they're saying I'm fat, and I said no you're not fat the chart says you're are but you're not."
But school leaders say they have reason to be concerned, with 20% of their district's 845 students reportedly overweight. 1% is reported to be underweight.
"I didn't mean to offend anyone; it's just another way of tracking a student's health," Superintendent Diann Bradshaw-Ulmer says. She explains federal wellness guidelines tip the scale in their favor.
"I think it's important for a parent to seek some medical help, in case there's some other underlying problems causing the over-weight problems - maybe juvenile diabetes, or a thyroid condition," she explains.
"I had an appointment to see my own physician within like a week or so, and I took the form to her and showed it, and she just kind of blew it off and said he's not fat," Ellison says.
Despite her reservations however, Ellison realizes the forms could serve as a wake up call to some parents.
"Some people probably don't pay a lot of attention simply because they are kids - they think they'll grow out of it,"Ellison says.
Superintendent Bradshaw-Ulmer also points out the referrals are mailed to parents to ensure the student's privacy.
She calls them simply recommendations.
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