Allergic High School Athlete Intentionally Exposed to Peanuts by Teammates


Two high school varsity football players allegedly spread peanut products in a teammate’s locker, knowing he has a severe allergy to peanuts, according to a spokesperson for Lake Travis, Texas ISD.

The victim reportedly broke out in hives, but it is unknown whether he had access to an epinephrine auto-injector and needed to administered it.

People close to the family said the perpetrators knew full well of their teammate’s peanut allergy and went so far as to record the incident.

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Paul Norton, Superintendent of Schools for the district, sent the following letter to parents and staff:

You may have seen reports in the news and on social media involving an incident that occurred in October 2023 connected to Lake Travis High School students. In order for our community to have a clearer picture of the situation, I would like to provide the following information.

By way of background, Lake Travis High School, the Lake Travis ISD Police Department, and district administrators were made aware of an incident that took place on campus during a staff professional development day/student holiday involving student athletes and the placement of peanuts in an athletic locker. Parents were immediately made aware of the situation. Athletic Director/Coach Hank Carter, Principal Debbie Garinger, and their administrative teams reviewed all evidence and consulted with internal legal counsel. As a result, our administrators applied consequences.

Due to federal privacy laws which protect all minor students, the details of those consequences cannot be made public or even shared with all staff. Although many have publicly shared concerns and rumors about the incident, the District must adhere to all legal and ethical guidelines. However, we can correct some misinformation which has been shared on social media. At no time was peanut butter spread on a helmet or uniform. The LTISD Police Department completed an investigation and has submitted that report to the Assistant District Attorney’s Office for review. At this time, we have not received a final determination from the Assistant District Attorney’s Office.

We remain committed to providing a safe learning environment. This includes educating students on appropriate behaviors and good decision-making. I have complete confidence in the administrative team and the efforts to maintain a safe and respectful environment at Lake Travis High School. We ask our community to respect student privacy as rumors can be misleading and cause damage. Thank you for your understanding and support.


Paul Norton
Superintendent of Schools

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Although the district claimed they could not comment on the “consequences” the perpetrators received, FOX 7 Austin viewers reached the station to say the punishments included football game suspensions.

Here is FOX 7 Austin’s report on the incident:

We at are outraged at the callousness and recklessness of this incident and hope the students responsible are more severely punished than simply suspended from games.

Lianne Mandelbaum, President of No Nut Traveler, is urging readers to message the district leadership to express your concerns and displeasure and has provided the following contact information:

Debbie Garinger, Principal LTHS —
Hank Carter, Athletic Director —
LTISD Board of Trustees —
Paul Norton, Superintendent  —

Here is the message we’ve sent the leadership:

Dear Principal Garinger, Superintendent Carter, Director Carter and Trustees:

I am the CEO of, an advocacy focused on the food allergy community and dedicated to preventing anaphylaxis, as well as the parent of a daughter with a severe peanut allergy.

In reference to the appalling “prank” perpetrated on one of your student-athletes with a peanut allergy by two of his classmates, we are horrified by the act and relieved the victim didn’t suffer a fatal reaction.

Having reported on many tragedies caused by inadvertent exposure to an allergen, let me reiterate that this incident could have resulted in hospitalization, cardiac arrest, brain damage, and death of the victim, all possible consequences of anaphylaxis, a severe reaction that can be triggered by trace amounts of an allergen via contact, inhalation, or ingestion.

It is crucial this incident be treated with the seriousness it deserves. In addition to the perpetrators being banned from participating in future football games, I suggest they be required to complete community service which includes a presentation to the school on the dangers of food allergies and how to recognize and respond to anaphylaxis. I am happy to point them to numerous resources and educate them to that end.

I ask that you view this as an opportunity for the perpetrators to show contrition and as a learning opportunity for the entire school.

Dave Bloom

We’ve made it especially easy for you to send your own e-mail message: simply click here and express your thoughts. If you’re willing, please include the text of your letter in the comments section below.

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  1. My 21 year old daughter died of fatal anaphylaxis in my arms after the taste of a peanut. Thank you, Snack Safely, for exposing this horrific and negligent behavior. Food allergies are serious and can be deadly. There can be a mild food allergy reaction, but there are NO mild food allergies. Visit Kyah Rayne Foundation for FREE food allergy training to schools and restaurants and helps them get life-saving epinephrine auto injectors (EAI) on-site. Learn how to use an EAI in one minute and be a life-saver!

    • I am so sorry you lost your daughter. My hear hurts for you and your family. My daughter also has nut allergies. She’s in college now and I worry 24 hours a day, every day.

  2. I just sent off a long letter to all the parties. I hope the district will do the right thing. It will say a great deal about the priorities of the district based on how they handle this case. Is keeping all students safe their number one priority? Evidence shows the boys knew death was a possibility and still went ahead with their plan. In my opinion this is the same as holding a gun to the victim’s head. I hate to think the victim is suffering retaliation when all anger should pointed to the perpetrators. Sadly, that is a reflection of the society we live in. If there are any good people in that school/district they need to flood the victim with support and kindness at this time. I hope criminal charges are filed. Lessons need to be learned.

  3. The school itself should address this issue along with law enforcement. Those involved should potentially face up to attempted murder. Calling intentionally putting peanuts with someone knowingly with anaphylaxis to a specific allergen in or around their personal belongings a prank is a travesty. Unless these two teenagers are mentally challenged I would say that they would be intelligent enough to know this was not a prank, that this could potentially harm someone. This was not an accident, this was teenagers being curious and willing to potentially harm or kill someone for their curiosity. Makes it even worse if these teenagers still think this was a prank. Than if all this was for a prank, their amusement, this takes it to even a higher disturbing level.

  4. Why are the police not involved? This is attempted murder by every definition and its recorded? Forget school. Those young men should be facing prison. Bet that doesn’t happen because they are athletes or possibly because they are “children”. These young men are in high school and should be defined as young adults, not children as the word child makes you believe that the individual doesn’t know what they are doing and these individuals knew and confirmed what would happen. It’s absolutely disgusting what we as a society allow the youth of our nation to get away with……

    • 100%. I posted earlier that this is and should be considered attempted murder. They should be tried as adults. They recorded this which means they planned it and they knew exactly what they were doing.

      They better not get a slap on the wrist for this.

  5. I just sent an email to the addresses provided and they all came back undelivered

    But here is what I put together….

    Dear Principal Garinger, Superintendent Carter, Director Carter and Trustees:

    I am a concerned Parent of a PN/TN Anaphylactic Student Athlete from Michigan. I have dedicated years spreading knowledge and advocating for my son, in every aspect of his very short lifetime, by being vocal and educating every parent, child, teacher and staff member that he or I have come into contact with. Including the coaches and teammates on his High School team. In reference to the so-called “prank” on one of your student athletes, living with a peanut allergy, by 2 of his classmates/teammates, I find this to be a horrific act and an allergy parent’s worst nightmare.

    Let me briefly share with you a picture of what an allergy parent’s daily life looks like…..We send them out into the world from their home, a “safe space”, which we have created, by making sure everything from the medicine they take, the shampoo, toothpaste, and soap they use, including the food they feed their pets, and yes, the food they eat themselves are all safe. Nothing in their home environment will hurt them. However, when they leave this safe space, the stress and anxiety begins, the handle on the bus, did the kid before him have a peanut butter sandwich? Will it now be on his hands? Will he rub his eye? The back of the seat they grab when they go to sit down? Will it transfer to the gum he takes from a friend? What about that basketball in the gym? Or that computer in the tech room? Paint brush in Art? Locker in the hallway? Food that his buddy has for lunch? Do they share? Will he try something new today because the packaging says it’s safe, but it’s not really because it doesn’t say that the plant that it was manufactured in also uses PN/TN? We make their lunch because we cannot ensure that the lunch at school is safe today – did they change who they bought the pizza from? What about that juice? Does it have Coconut in it now?

    As any parent might, we worry, – but the added stress and anxiety that comes from Food Allergies is something I wouldn’t wish on anyone. But here’s the thing, believe it or not, the locker room, buses, and teammates are supposed to be “safe” – they are there to have each other’s backs – on or off the field, track, course, etc. isn’t that the true nature of a team? Being a true teammate? Coaches preach about Team and being a unit? What happened here? How did the Coaches, managers and trainers, let this happen?

    The fact that your student athlete is “ok” physically and outwardly is an absolute blessing. He was able to recognize that he was in a dangerous situation and removed himself. His parents have done a great job in teaching and educating him on how to respond/react in situations that they can only prepare for and hope never happens. However, this will take time for him to overcome, the loss of trust, the mental and emotional anxiety created by this one act, the cruelty, and the aftermath from friends and peers in school, will be harsh. Because kids can be cruel and they are looking to parents, who do not understand, to set an example. You and your peers, have failed to teach and set an example, that this cruel act, that kids knowingly carried out – THAT COULD HAVE KILLED SOMEONE – was no big deal and only received a 2 GAME SUSPENSION!!! Like writing on the wall in the bathroom, or getting caught skipping school, is no worse than a slap on the wrist, a 2 game suspension….

    To think that you have accepted this extremely critical breakdown within all aspects of your system, with disregard for the severity of the situation – is truly heartbreaking. This will have long lasting repercussions, not only for the student athlete involved but for those Students with Allergies to follow…..A simple suspension – within the guidelines of your schools policy – is not treating this situation with the seriousness it deserves. This is a life or death situation. What part of this is not understood by the students that perpetrated this act? What part do you, the leaders of this community? Parents? Peers? not understand?

    I do hope that you take the time to read this letter and the letters of other Allergy parents, and are able to glean some small piece of knowledge and can begin to not only educate yourselves but your entire community. I assure you – this is not the only child in your system – living with a life threatening allergy – and now they are living in fear…….I do hope the Student Athletes that perpetrated this act and their parents, are educated in the severity of their actions and that the punishment is stronger than what has been given so far.

    Please take the time to protect and educate all of the students in your system and advocate for them, by making your district a place that everyone would want to be a part of….

    Thank you, from an Allergy parent in Michigan.

  6. Here’s the brief email that I sent:

    Dear Principal Garinger, Superintendent Carter, Director Carter and Trustees:

    I am an adult with lifelong food allergies. Two of my three children also have them. For over 50 years, I have carried an EpiPen everywhere that my family and I go. We have all suffered anaphylaxis; it is terrifying and a life-threatening emergency. I am disgusted by the behavior of Lake Travis High School students who absolutely could have killed their teammate. To think that this teammate must continue to face his attempted murderers in school every day is a travesty. This was assault.

    Additionally, food allergies are classified as a disability under the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). I sincerely hope that the family of the allergic student and/or any other person or organization have filed a complaint with OCR (the Office of Civil Rights) on his behalf.

    Under FERPA, you cannot release specifics about the consequences for the aggressors. However, you absolutely can make public a list of steps that you are taking to educate students and staff about the severity of food allergies and a description of sample restorative justice programs that you will be putting in place to address any future incidents.

    Thank you for addressing this situation with transparency and gravity.


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