School letter says daughter needs to see a doctor about her weight

The letter asks her to have her daughter evaluated by a doctor, and then send her school documentation of the visit. She is deciding to not tell her daughter about the letter. (News Channel Photo)

Now that school has started again, most parents are worried about getting their kids up in time for the bus in the mornings or possibly choosing what sort of after school extracurricular activities they should sign their kids up for.

Katie Dickens thought she would be one of those parents, but instead of being worried about the typical things like meetings with teachers and getting her 5-year-old daughter ready for kindergarten, she had to worry about her daughter’s weight, according to the school.

Dickens says when she read the letter the family received from Youth Elementary in Loganville she was shocked because she believes the letter is calling her daughter fat.

She says her husband read the letter first and then she had the same reaction.

“He calls me and says, 'So is the school calling our kid fat?’” said Katie Dickens

Dickens says the letter is out of line. It recommends the family see a doctor for their child's nutrition.

“Someone they've never met, laid eyes on - measured, weighed themselves. Just automatically my child needs help with nutrition and you have to take her to the doctor and provide us with the results of your doctor's appointment,” said Dickens.

The letter the Dickens Family received from Youth Elementary is related to the state required form 3300; a health screening new Georgia public school students complete with a doctor and then submit to their school.

The form's nutrition section examines a child's height, weight and body mass index. She says her child is healthy, but is listed in the 94 percentile for body mass.

The letter asks her to have her daughter evaluated by a doctor, and then send her school documentation of the visit. She is deciding to not tell her daughter about the letter.

Dickens understands if schools recommend a child seek further help for vision or hearing problems, but says a child's weight should not be a concern to the school.

Dickens had checked to see who signed the letter and noticed it was from the school’s secretary. She believes that the secretary had no idea of what she was sending and that the school has shown poor leadership for an issue like this.

“One of the biggest things that you hear about in the news today is body shaming and you’re body shaming a child you’ve never even met? What if my child did know about this at age five? I just feel strongly that there is a line that the government should not cross when it comes to my personal family life and letters telling my child or any child is overweight just because they don't fit in the government's box of what weight should be is incredibly over the line.”

“We don't need to have her have a stigma already in the fact that she is already nervous about starting school,” said Dickens. “It is like a whole new world, you know that. We've all been to kindergarten.”

After hearing her concerns, a Walton County School District spokeswoman wrote us, “We are currently reviewing our procedures to see how we can best serve our students and connect them with additional resources.”

The spokeswoman says the letter follows a state recommendation to connect parents with resources for issues on their Form 3300.

Katie Dickens says she wants to bring attention to this letter, not only for her daughter, but for any other family receiving a similar letter. She also says she won't be submitting documentation from a doctor's visit to the school about her daughter's nutrition because her daughter won't be seeing a doctor to address the situation.

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