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Students Suspended for Endangering Fragrance Sensitive Teacher

7th-Graders Raise Stink at School

Seattle Times
Wednesday, March 22, 2000, 01:57 p.m. Pacific

by Frank Vinluan
Seattle Times Snohomish County bureau

Marysville School District officials are trying to clear the air
about the suspension of three students who wore cologne in a
classroom, an act officials say could be perceived as harassment
bordering on assault.

Despite requests that students refrain from using fragrant products
because of the severe allergic reaction they cause teacher Jeanne
Bartlett, the seventh-grade boys still "doused" themselves in cologne
before entering her classroom at Cedarcrest Middle School, said
Mary Fears, spokeswoman for the Marysville district.

Last Thursday, four boys went to the bathroom and poured cologne
on themselves before entering Bartlett's classroom, Cedarcrest
Principal Harlean Mailloux said.

One boy reconsidered and washed it off. He was not suspended.
But the others wore the cologne to the classroom, which bears a
sign warning of Bartlett's sensitivity to fragrances and chemicals.

"That's harassment, if not assault," Mailloux said.

Mailloux said teachers have seen Bartlett experience breathing
difficulty after exposure to fragrances. Bartlett's allergies are so
severe that cologne, hair spray and even deodorant can trigger
a respiratory attack, she said.

Bartlett's students and the teachers who work with her have been
asked not to wear anything scented. The request was honored
without incident until this year.

In January, a boy put on cologne before entering Bartlett's
classroom, Mailloux said. He was suspended for three days.
The three boys in last week's incident also received three-day
suspensions, a punishment reduced to one day after two parents
appealed. Fears said the parents contended the boys may not have
been aware of Bartlett's allergy.

One boy served his suspension Friday because his parents did not
appeal. The other two served their suspensions Monday.

Bartlett, who has taught in the district for more than 10 years,
declined to comment.

But Mailloux said letters describing Bartlett's situation have been
sent home with her students for several years and, with the
exception of the two incidents, students and teachers have
accommodated her need for a fragrance-free environment.

The district does not have a policy banning scents, Fears said. The
request for a fragrance-free environment is made only in Bartlett's
classroom because of her severe allergy, she said.

"The issue here is responsibility and consequences," Fears said.
"This is no different than any other situation where you put a
fellow student or teacher in jeopardy."


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