NZ schools force oil diffusers onto students, parent threatens to sue
Someone in New Zealand has come up with a novel way to push doTerra products.
The unnamed affiliate convinced a bunch of local schools that placing a doTerra diffuser in classrooms, would “stop the spread of viruses and keep children focused at school”.
Not everyone is on board though, with one parent going so far as to threaten to take the school to the High Court.
Following consultation with its PTA, Milford Primary School budgeted $2000 for doTerra diffusers and essential oils.
You might think this was reason enough for parents to be up in arms but Tim Rainey’s reasons aren’t financially motivated.
Rainey demanded Milford Primary School remove the diffusers because ‘the essential oils could trigger asthma attacks.‘
Rainey, who is a barrister by profession, threatened the school with High Court action if the diffusers were not removed.
Speaking with NZ Herald, Rainey said
he took action because there was no consultation with parents before the decision was made to use diffusers in the classrooms.
Rainey said some essential oils, such as wild orange and cinnamon-bark, used in the dōTERRA OnGuard Blend, were irritants for people with allergies and asthma.
As someone who can eat oranges and lemons all day but if I inhale anything citrus suffers from a runny nose within minutes – yeah, pretty crappy move by the school administrators.
Who exactly is behind the decision to use doTerra diffusers in the first place is unclear.
It’s a given that Milford Primary School didn’t decide to buy doTerra diffusers and commit to an ongoing purchase of essential oils of their own accord.
Either a faculty member, parent or some other third-party, with a vested personal financial interest, has pushed the idea.
For her part, Milford principal Sue Cattell isn’t spilling the beans.
School principal Sue Cattell told the Weekend Herald the legal letter was the first negative contact she had regarding the diffusers.
“We trialled the diffusers in one class last year and that class had fewer students off sick and the teacher said the behaviour had improved,” she said.
“We want to stop the spread of illness and have children in the class learning, not at home sick.”
She said other schools used the diffusers with no issue and she had cleared the use with the Ministry of Education.
“The teachers were behind the use 100 per cent and so many parents have told me they loved the idea of the diffusers in class, there was so much positive feedback,” she said.
Sounds like someone has carved out a nice little doTerra business niche supplying schools in New Zealand.
I don’t have a problem with that from a business perspective but ethically it’s certainly questionable.
First off Milford is a public primary school, meaning public fund are being used to purchase doTerrea diffusers and oils.
Again, don’t have a problem with that – provided peer-reviewed studies are provided to parents to back up any medical claims about illness reduction made.
With respect to the claim that use of doTerra oils and diffusers “stop the spread of viruses”, in 2014 the FDA sent doTerra a warning pertaining specifically to these sorts of claims.
More important is the issue of consent, which I think is truly where the scheme comes undone.
Kids are in school for most of the day up to five days a week. That’s a lot of time to be exposed to essential oils.
I’m not suggesting this is on the level of passive smoking, for example, but personally I have an allergy to citrus and I can’t think of anything more miserable than having to breathe it in all day.
Even more so if as a child I had no say in the matter. Milford’s students range from are 5 to 11 years in age.
As a Milford Primary School parent, I’d also want to know who’s idea this was and whether anyone at the school is getting paid.
Also whether or not the School Board explored any alternative manufacturer options, or whether this was someone on the board scratching someone else’s back.
Are any of the Milford staff doTerra affiliates? Has the school itself signed up?
According to research by members of the New Zealand subreddit, Sue Cattell herself is the one who proposed use of doTerra oils and diffusers.
The above is a screenshot of the minutes of the school meeting in which Cattell (right), proposed the use of doTerra diffusers and oils in classrooms.
It appears that the initial plan was to get the school on board and then target parents.
I’m not familiar with public school staff guidelines in New Zealand but surely this is an abuse of a position of authority on some level?
I mean what, after the principal has won funding from a public school for her personal business, she’s going to then target parents?
Just to clarify, I don’t have a problem with doTerra or essential oil MLM companies.
I really don’t think public schools are where you should be marketing them though – especially if it’s on the pretext of prescribed medical benefits without documented evidence and financial disclosure.
Pending a decision by the Milford School Board in response to Tim Rainey’s legal threat, the purchased diffusers have been “locked away in an office”.
As far as I’m aware, doTerra haven’t published a statement regarding Sue Cattell’s purported conduct.