A mom’s Twitter rant about a school permission slip touches a nerve.
PHILADELPHIA — Sometimes, the tiniest thing can go viral.
Like a cookie.
A Lower Merion mom learned that last week, after her Twitter rant over a school permission slip became part of an online debate about schools, food and parenting.
“Insanity. I have to sign a permission slip so my middle-schooler can eat an Oreo,” wrote the mom, who identifies herself online only as Main Line Housewife.
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The message was soon posted on various websites and parenting blogs. So was a photo of the permission slip, sent home to explain a hands-on science activity that involved Double Stuf Oreos.
The reaction surprised the mother, who declined an interview request and refused to be named. It also prompted the Lower Merion School District, which has no policy requiring permission for students to have snacks in class, to defend the Welsh Valley Middle School teacher, Darlene Porter.
“It’s one teacher who was really trying to do her due diligence, quite honestly,” school district spokesman Doug Young said Friday, noting that there are students in the class with gluten allergies.
Porter did not respond to an email seeking comment.
The sixth-grade teacher sent home the slip in preparation for a lesson about the Earth’s plate tectonics.
She planned to use the Double Stuf Oreo “to simulate the 3 types of plate boundaries and the geographical features that are created,” according to a copy of the slip.
“The students may eat the OREO after the investigation if this is OK with you,” the form said. “The students do NOT have to eat the OREO if they do not wish to do so.”
The back of the permission form included a photo of an Oreo package, the cookie’s ingredients and a list of the nutrition facts.
Parents of children in Porter’s class were asked to sign the form and send it back to school by Wednesday. The activity was scheduled for Friday.
“My child — has permission to eat the OREO after the science investigation on 3/27/2015,” the form said. “Without a signed permission slip, my child understands that he/she will not be able to sample the OREO.”
The mother’s online posting about the permission form fed into a growing debate about how schools should handle food allergies.
Columnist and reality television show host Lenore Skenazy, who founded the “free-range kids” movement to combat overprotective parenting, reposted the permission form on her blog. She called it “proof that we can never underestimate … how far our obsession over child safety can go.”
Others defended the teacher. “As a food allergy parent I appreciate this,” said one commenter on Skenazy’s blog. “I want to know what food if any is in my child’s classroom.”
The Lower Merion mom wrote that she did not blame the teacher for sending it.
“I blame our crazy culture,” she tweeted.
While permission slips are typically needed for off-campus field trips, Young said this was the first time he had heard of a teacher sending out permission slips for a classroom activity.
In the end, the classroom Oreo activity “went off without a hitch” on Friday, Young said. He didn’t say how many students got to munch on Double Stufs, but noted that the parents of a student who is unable to eat gluten sent their own gluten-free Oreos to school.