Controversy over child with illness

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Submitted: Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:16am
Updated: Tue, 07/22/2014 - 3:35am

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – All her life, 5-year-old Isabella Billings has suffered from a severe nut allergy. She can die if she comes in contact with or eats nuts.

Isabella will start Kindergarten at Alderman Elementary, but due to her potential allergic reaction, her parent think it’s extremely important for her to be transferred to Winter Park Elementary, which is much closer to home.

Her father believes the move could be the difference between life and death.

Jonathan Billings said, “She’s been in anaphylaxis before. She has been very close to hurt and possible dead.”

One of the reasons why they are so concerned.

“When things happen like they have happened in the past, and our child in endangered, we are able to be there. We have had her in situations where she is around professional medical staff and our ability to be there is what has made the difference,” Billings expressed.

The family has tried to contact the New Hanover County School system several times, but the board has denied their request for reassignment. The Billings plans to appeal the decision to Superior Court.

Billings hopes the school system will reconsider. If not, they may be forced to home school their daughter this school year.


  • Maggie says:

    I cannot believe they would not grant her request. This is a pretty extraordinary circumstance and a matter of life and death. Have gov officials (school officials) lost all their common sense. Please!! This is sad.

  • Maggie says:

    I cannot believe they would not grant her request. This is a pretty extraordinary circumstance and a matter of life and death. Have gov officials (school officials) lost all their common sense. Please!! This is sad.

  • Jonathan says:

    Appreciate your thoughts! We hope this will highlight the issue and at least help those who may face the same issues. We will take any support you are willing to provide. Many are sharing on Facebook and some are telling us they are making phone calls and writing. It has nothing to do with the quality of Alderman, it has to do with the distance and the danger it presents. We are not asking to rearrange the world, we are asking the board to follow recommendations documented by medical professionals.

  • anonymou5 says:

    Why would you take the kid away from an equally trained staff that’s around the corner from the hospital and put her in a school that’s further from the hospital and goes through many more tough intersections to get there? If the poor kid comes into contact with peanuts, it’s just as likely to happen at either place and proximity to home won’t help worth a crap if she needs to get to a doctor.

    It doesn’t make a bit of sense….

  • BA says:

    If the parents live across the street from Winter Park why are they forced to go to Alderman. Bring back neighborhood schools.

  • Ali says:

    I have food allergies so your story hit close to home. Just wanted to say that I’m sorry for what you are going through! I can understand why you want your daughter closer to home and her doctor’s office – especially given how difficult it can be to get around traffic in Wilmington! As caring and hardworking as teachers are, no one can really comfort and protect like Mom and Dad. =)
    We’re a homeschooling family and I wanted to let you know that there are many of us that are navigating life around medical issues so you’ll have a lot of sympathy/empathy amongst the homeschooling community. My own mother began homeschooling me when I was in 2nd grade b/c of my health and food allergies so I understand. I hope that your special request is met, but I just wanted to make you all feel welcome and let you know that you are not alone if you do need to home educate. =)

  • Heimie Schmelter says:

    …any common sense in the first place? I’ve never witnessed one, single action by school officials that would lead me to believe they rank a 0.5 on a scale of 10 in competency.

    This is typical of the majority of government run programs. But you know what? WE vote these clowns in!!!

  • Brenda says:

    Just let the child go to Winter Park, really, is it that difficult. Other children get to go to schools not in their district for NON Medical reasons.

  • dickerson says:

    Personally I would want my child closer to an EMS station and not my house.

  • Jonathan says:

    Appreciate your thoughts . Fortunately, my wife and I being present has kept her from having to go to the hospital via EMS, we would like Bella to for go that experience if possible. Her body reacts in a stroke-like manner before the anaphylaxis and the signs are uneasy to spot if you don’t know what to look for. If my wife is a literal run across the road and Bella’s teachers know these “pre-signs”, it makes all the difference. Also, nut allergies are just one facet, please see previous response for more detail! Thanks again, J.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! Winter Park now has full time nursing staff and are well equipped, they also have been accessible to us in regard to our situation. The documented details of no communication from Alderman, a requirement laid out by all medical professionals, is written in our previous responses, along with the reason we do in fact need her to be closer to our home for reasons not released on the news, which is equidistant from the hospital I believe. Thanks again, J.

  • Rosemarie Marrone says:

    Let the child go where the parents want her to go cause I know of other children that their parents lie with fake address to have their children go to different schools. In fact I know of one that lives in Creekwood and her child will be going to Noble. And this child is not sick.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for sharing! Our daughter HAS adapted and we do not expect the world to. We would like to see allowances where needed. It was our doctor’s recommendation, not ours. Sending her across town throws away years of us teaching her that she is responsible for watching what she eats. We are just asking that the board listen to medical professionals. Thanks again, J

  • Jonathan says:

    Appreciate your thoughts! Our daughter is not just allergic to peanuts, please remember this is just a summary, we don’t want all of her medical issues on the news. My wife is a stay at home mom across the street and we have documented instances where our response to the situation was the deciphering factor in her safety. Thanks again and wish you the best! J

  • Alfred says:

    Speaking as a former teacher, we were trained in the use of the Epi-Pen every year, and I had to use one on several occasions. I find it hard to believe they think they can get to the school to deal with an anaphylactic reaction quicker than a responder already in the building. If the parents are so concerned that a school can’t handle this issue, maybe they really should just home school her.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! That may be the case, but we wouldn’t know, because the nursing staff has not replied to our multiple calls and emails. If they cannot handle responding to simple correspondence from concerned parents, how we to trust them? One of the major requirements for a child being safe in that situation is good communication between the nursing staff and the parents. This has not happened. Others might be ok with waging their child’s safety on “maybe” but we are not. We are no longer attempting contact with the school, because at this point, we just don’t trust them. Correspondence with Winter Park has been great, and we have submitted proof of no contact with Alderman at our school board hearing. Thanks again, J

  • Concerned says:

    Alderman is an excellent school which is very capable of taking care of a child with severe allergies. We have the best kindergarten teachers in New Hanover County and they are VERY qualified to take care of this child.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for your thoughts! I don’t know if you have had any experience with allergies, but every time she has had a reaction, yes they do call. And twice, we saved her, not the people on staff at the facilities. Also, the nut allergy is just one facet. We do not want all of her medical issues on the news. I feel like if people would educate themselves, they would understand that we are working so other kids and families don’t have to work around those with allergies. If your child (the royal you) was in danger the way ours is, perspectives would change quickly. It was not our recommendation, it was that of her physicians. Thanks again, J

  • Guest of the Week says:

    I can understand the anxiety that the parents have, but let’s be a little realistic here: if she got exposed to nuts, she’s going to need to be treated quite quickly. No one is going to call the parents and say “Hey… your daughter was exposed to nuts and might be having an anaphylactic reaction. Can you come take care of it? We’ll wait.” This is just the parents being mother hens and not having a little trust in the system. I very much doubt she’s the first school child they’ve had with such an allergy, nor will she be the last.

  • STM says:

    you must be out of your mind! You’ve obviously never known someone with a severe nut allergy! Go back to your arm chair warriorring but leave us moms alone.

  • Robert Earl K says:

    That’s exactly what the school will do if the child has a reaction. They will call the parents. Administrators’ hands are so tied these days when it comes to providing treatment, they are unable to do some things a logical person would do for fear of being sued. As a person with an allergy, you have to realize you are responsible for your own care and safety. If that means a parent requests their kindergartener closer to them, they should be applauded for taking that initiative, not criticized.

  • Guest2020 says:

    My daughter has a friend with a peanut allergy and let us know. She reminded us of that whenever we would purchase something to share with the class. It would be better for the schools to make other parents aware.

    It’s ludicrous that your son was suspended for eating a peanut butter sandwich. Was the girl in his class or was he participating in an activity that involved more than one class?

  • Duplin County Mom says:

    I am curious as to New Hanover’s approach to handling a child with severe nut allergies. Do they teach other children about her allergies? Do they educate other parents in her class? What is their emergency response to this dilemma? I know that here in Duplin County they teach the other children about allergies and train the staff. However, they did not reach out to other parents to educate them and let them make decisions concerning whether their child who might eat nuts should take them to school. Duplin County is under the misunderstanding that if they educate other parents about severe nut allergies that they are breaking HIPPA, but schools are not under HIPAA. Even the CDC recommends for severe Nut Allergies to educate the other parents. My son was suspended for 3 days because he eats peanut butter for lunch and one day he was out of breath from running and a girl with severe allergies turned to talk to him and she started to have a reaction. As a parent, I was mortified that I was never given the opportunity to know about this potential danger to another student and make changes for my son at school. I would like to know other school’s plans for such potential incidences. I do not want another parent to have to have their child suspended when something could have easily been done to prevent this situation.

  • Guest2020 says:

    Wishing the family good luck. I would like to know the system’s excuse for not allowing this request.

  • Jonathan says:

    Thanks for asking! The documented reasons are that: Winter Park has no available space that Alderman has adequate ability to serve the student and that our daughter does not have a documented disability. Thanks again, for the support!

  • Guest of the Week says:

    I was unaware she had other medical issues. Fair enough then, I stand corrected. I’m probably overestimating the preparedness of the school system to handle allergies, to be honest. If her physicians are recommending she be moved closer to home, then they really should be honoring that.

  • Jonathan says:

    This is what our story is about, just getting the word out. If you don’t inquire then nobody knows! I am so appreciative of your willingness to participate, it shows you care. Honestly, we want to know if we’re wrong. This is about truth, so we want to find it. And at this point, we feel we are standing with truth. Thank you again for being willing to help us look at this in correct lighting! J

  • Dupin County Mom says:

    It turns out they were in the same class. They never informed us other parents. I even ask every year about allergies for when we send goodies. I was told there were no allergies/diet issues this year. I have been told in years past. It was an awful situation that it still not settled in my mind but not sure where to go next. I will make sure they are not in same class this year!!!

  • caroline2727 says:

    Would love to hear how this story turned out. Did NHCS do the right thing and transfer her or did they keep sending her parents thier generic rejection letter?

  • anonymous says:

    Come on, ban p-nut products from the whole school? Peanuts and p-nut butter is a staple of the entire US, and as much as it is unfair for them to allow the child to attend school there, it is that much more unfair to deny the other 99% of attendees and say because of this one child, you cannot do that either. One bad apple does not infer the whole bushel is bad!

    Either let her go there, or home school her.

  • Nuts says:

    The simple solution is to ban peanuts and peanut products from all schools. That way there is not chance for a kid to be exposed to them.

  • Guest123 says:

    I’m not sure if that is the best way, besides if they’re really so allergic that residue can cause a reaction, wouldn’t you have to ban it from every school kid’s home as well so they don’t bring it in on their clothes, hands, etc.

    What happens when they leave school? Ban it from all stores? public parks? Streets and common areas?

    I’m sorry this little girl and other children have this deadly allergy; however, it’s simply not resonable can’t expect the entire world to adapt to them.

    Unfortunately, they are going to have to learn how to adapt to the world.

  • ChefnSurf says:

    Of course that does beg the question: Do we just ignore all of the other potential causes for anaphylaxis? Things like: Tree nuts, Shellfish, Fish, Cow’s milk, Eggs, Wheat, Soy, Latex, Exercise-induced anaphylaxis, Insect bites and stings and Other things? Do we ban all of those other things as well, or should some of these kids man up, stop being such namby-pambies and just take their chances?

    After thinking about it, I would have to say that I totally agree with you; “the simple solution is to ban peanuts and peanut products from all schools”. Too simple.

    Wait a minute … I just thought of something …..

    You know, it might be even simpler yet to just let those kids with a verifiably serious allergy go to a school that’s closer to their home.

  • guest123 says:

    I don’t see how letting a child go to a school near their home makes any difference. Are the parents home all day that they can run to the school if their child has an allergic reaction at lunch to another child’s peanut butter and jelly sandwich? nuts are everywhere. Seems the only way to keep the child away from nut products is to home school and never let her out of the house. Must be a better way. are they saying their child is so allergic she can not function in society? sad for the child.

    Why is it no one ever heard of children dying from exposure to nuts, food coloring and such until the last 10 or so years? I am asking this seriously.

  • Beth says:

    I hope her family has a prescription for an EPI-PEN. She needs to have one on her at all times, not have to wait for family to administer it. If she doesn’t already know how, she needs to know how to administer it herself. The school system needs to allow it on her person with an extra at the nurse’s station just in case.. If they don’t, I would home school her, though the American’s with Disability Act should apply. Many school systems either don’t understand or care about the severity of such reactions.

  • Beth says:

    The chances of a kid dying are much greater without receiving treatment immediately versus being scared they will do it wrong etc. I think the kid should be transferred closer to, but the kid needs to have it on her person at school to be administered immediately before the parent is even called or on the way. A throat closes within second, not minutes or ten minutes of waiting for the parent to get there. The parent should have to sign a waiver saying it is okay for the med to be administered without their presence. Anything less is a death sentence for the little girl. I have yet to hear of a death caused by the epi-pen itself but I have heard of hundreds of deaths due to non presence and non use.

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