A husband and wife on Thursday sued a private Brentwood school, alleging the Christian Science beliefs of the hierarchy favoring faith healing over medical intervention forced them to withdraw their daughter from classes because of her peanut allergy at considerable expense.
Kelly Van Halen and Baron Rogers filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court against the Foundation Inc., alleging breach-of-contract, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
They are asking for unspecified compensatory and punitive damages. A representative of Berkeley Hall School did not immediately reply to an email seeking comment.
According to the complaint, the couple enrolled their daughter, Stella Rogers, in the Berkeley Hall pre-school in 2007, two years before she had her first allergic reaction to nuts. The allergies can cause potentially life-threatening shocks to sufferers.
The couple did not know at the time that the school was operated by Christian Scientists, the suit states.
After learning of the girl's allergy, the couple checked with the school administration about procedures in place to protect children like their daughter, the suit states. However, they were denied an immediate meeting until after several winter feasts and holiday celebrations were completed, according to the suit.
The couple later met with their daughter's teacher and the director of the early child development center, the suit states. They asked that a ban be placed on bringing nuts into the center and that a portable dose of adrenaline be present kept in case of an allergic reaction by their child or other students at the school, the suit states.
However, both requests were rejected and the two were told that their daughter's allergy had no physical cause and was "merely in her head and she would grow out of it,'' according to the suit.
"Stella's teacher would even later permit a child to bring nuts into class for show and tell,'' the suit states. Although the school ultimately adopted a ban on nut products — prompting the couple to spend $13,000 in tuition — the measure was not enforced, at least one student seated behind Stella was allowed to eat nuts and school staff members were also seen consuming nut products, the suit states.
The couple withdrew their daughter from classes and asked for a refund, but were refused, the suit states. They later hired private tutors that cost more than $25,000, according to the complaint.
Watch the attached YouTube video produced by Berkeley Hall School in 2011 to celebrate its centenial.