Paiuk says she wanted to speak out about the question at the April meeting but was hesitant to make a stink before her son had even entered the school. “The teachers were there and they were checking out the parents as much as we were them,” she says.
A few days later, Paiuk, who wrote about the incident in a recent New York Times essay, called the school district and was told by a nurse that if there were any birth traumas — like the umbilical cord being wrapped around a child’s neck or an emergency C-section — they needed to know. That way, if the child presented with any issues at school, teachers or administrators could refer to the form. “I thought it was BS,” Paiuk says. “Yes, birth trauma can result in developmental delays or disability, but that can happen through vaginal birth or a C-section. And if there are delays or disabilities, shouldn’t that be diagnosed by a doctor, not an administrator? Wouldn’t it be crazy if I thought something was wrong with your child and went back and looked at a form and said ‘Oh, it’s because she had a C-section’?”
Paiuk was directed to the school’s outside medical adviser, who said the form had been used for at least 20 years and that Paiuk’s was the first complaint he’d received. “Let’s say it was added 30 years ago, there weren’t that many C-sections then, so maybe it might have been indicative of a birth trauma,” Paiuk says. “You might have been able to justify the question 30 years ago. But now there’s such a higher rate of C-sections that it’s not immediately indicative of birth trauma or developmental delay. The fact that this has continued for all these years just tells me that people are blindly filling out forms these days.”
While it’s not unusual for schools to require information about incoming students, the questions asked on those admission forms are not universal. Still, Paiuk says she’s heard from mothers in other states who’ve been asked to answer the same question, and have complied.