HARLEM, NY (KRON) – A community is grieving after a small child died from an allergic reaction to a grilled cheese sandwich, given to him at his school in Harlem.
The family of the preschooler named Elijah, says the 7th Ave. Center for Family Services knew about and had documented his allergy.
Lorelei Vargas is Deputy Commissioner for Early Care and Education for the Administration for Children’s Services, the agency that oversees the center.
When asked if this tragedy could have been avoided, she replied, “I don’t know. I don’t know if it can be avoided because we don’t really know what happened. “
She says Elijah’s deadly exposure to dairy was an isolated incident, but didn’t know if this ACS early learn site had a protocol to protect or save children from a severe allergic reaction.
The Department of Health is investigating and has closed the school for failing to follow its written safety plan, and failing to supervise Elijah.
All New York schools are required by law to have a safety plan should a student go into anaphylactic shock, as family members say Elijah did.
Parents of Elijah’s classmates say 7th Ave. Center for Family Services needs to be held accountable.
“They should be shut down and whoever is in charge of this program should definitely face criminal charges, I think,” said parent Ruth Harris.
There’s now a small memorial outside the school, as Elijah’s death reminds all of us that when dealing with severe food allergies, schools, camps, parents, everyone, must play a role in keeping children with allergies safe.
CNN contributed to this article.
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