TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - A Tucson parent is speaking out in frustration. She claims her daughter's elementary school does not respect the family's Muslim religious beliefs and continues to give her child food containing pork products.
The Amphitheater Unified School District spokeswoman told Tucson News Now the district is not required to accommodate students special dietary needs based solely on religion. They said the child must have a medical issue and they require a doctor's note for a child to have an alternative meal. But the mother, who didn't want to show her face on camera, said that policy has got to change.
"I want my religion to matter to you guys. My daughter shouldn't have to go to school and be fearful of what's she's eating," Nancy said.
Nancy's daughter is a second grader at Holaway Elementary School. Back in September, as requested by the school, Nancy provided them with a doctor's note explaining that their family is Muslim and her daughter cannot eat any pork.
She said the school was accommodating. But then in December her daughter was served a bacon cheeseburger.
"The lunch lady was like, 'No, too bad. Just pick it off.' Picking it off doesn't work because it's in the hamburger," Nancy said.
Upset and confused, Nancy went into the school to get answers on how that happened.
"The principal had said because she didn't wear the traditional clothes and because she's just a white girl that was going there she didn't fit that normal stereotype of being Muslim – so it wasn't obvious for them to follow the guidelines for her," Nancy said.
Nancy was frustrated but decided to let it go. Then just days ago, her daughter came home with a cereal bar she was given at school. The bar contains gelatin, which is a byproduct of pork.
"And that was part if it. We told them we could send that – but at that same time she doesn't want to have to be that different child," said Nancy when asked why didn't she pack a lunch for her daughter to take to school, to ensure that she wasn't eating any pork.
Amphi's statement also reads, "We encourage families with children with any special dietary needs to make sure they are educating their children about what to look for so they know what is acceptable and what they should avoid. Every child is different and we do our best to ensure a healthy,
accommodating environment for all of our students."
Nancy told Tucson News Now she's hoping others will learn from this but says if it continues, she may file a civil lawsuit.
The Amphi school district posts their school lunch menus on-line in advance and parents can request the ingredient lists.
This is the district's full statement:
Link to Amphi food menus: http://www.amphi.com/Page/9434