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Judge rules for Fox Chapel schools in tree nut allergy case

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Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 3:33 p.m.

Fox Chapel Area School District was not deliberately indifferent to a former Fairview Elementary student's severe allergy to tree nuts, a federal judge ruled on Tuesday.

“On the contrary, the factual allegations support the conclusion that Fox Chapel was working diligently, although perhaps imperfectly, in attempting to accommodate T.F.'s disability,” U.S. District Judge Arthur Schwab said in ruling for the school district in a lawsuit brought by the former student's parents. The student was identified in the lawsuit only by initials.

The student's parents claimed that the district violated their son's civil rights during the 2010-11 school year by failing to develop an adequate plan to protect him from exposure. They withdrew their son from the school in December 2010 and enrolled him in a cyber charter school, according to court records.

Their attorney, Jeffrey Ruder, declined comment.

Schwab ruled that the district devised four different plans and made several modifications to those plans after consulting with the student's parents and doctor, but the parents rejected all of them.

The judge rejected the parents' claim that the district retaliated against them by filing a truancy action when their son missed more than 11 days of school without an excuse.

State law required the district to file the charge, and there's no “pattern of antagonism” in the district's communications with the student's parents, Schwab said.

Brian Bowling is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-325-4301 or

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