Parents at a Bedford, Kentucky, elementary school accuse the school itself of bullying a 10-year-old girl there last week after a school official seized her hot lunch tray from in front of her as she sat in the cafeteria with her friends — then dumped the whole thing in the trash.
“Someone came and took her lunch while she was sitting there with her friends and everybody else,” said Leslie Chilton, an aunt to the little girl whose name has not been made public.
“An actual employee told me that afternoon because I was at school,” Chilton, who is active in the school’s Parent-Teacher Organization, said. “It was awful to think about her being there, sitting there and she was crying. She’s a shy girl anyway, she’s 10 years old and she’s knows what’s going on.”
But what the little girl did not know was the reason the grown-up humiliated her in front of her friends, forcing her to make it through the school day on just the cheese sandwich the school granted her after trashing her full meal — and wasting an entire meal’s worth of perfectly good food in the process.
“I think it’s all bullying,” said Doug Joyce, the 10-year-old’s grandpa. “They kick kids out for bullying, they need to kick grown-ups out for bullying.”
The whole traumatic episode happened because the girl’s family was a bit in arrears on her school lunch account bill.
The debt wasn’t a matter of being unable to pay, Joyce told WAVE-TV. It was simply an oversight. But another parent, Kim Wright, told the station that the school needs to find a better way to settle school lunch accounts — a way that doesn’t involve bullying innocent kids.
“How is it ethical? How is it moral to do this to children who have no control over the situation, whatever the situation may be?” said Wright, who said her own child saw the incident and came home upset. “Whether it’s the fault of the school or the parents, the child does not need to be in the equation.”
The Bedford school incident was just the latest in a series of similar lunch-shamings. Last year, a school in Salt Lake City, Utah, tossed 40 lunches because parents fell behind on their accounts.
A girl in Tulsa, Oklahoma, was victimized last October even though her lunch was paid for. But she was eligible for reduced-price lunches and due to a computer glitch, lunchroom employees believed she had underpaid.
The school district in Kentucky said it would review the lunch policy at a meeting on June 17.
“There’s no sense of treating any kid that way,” Joyce said of the school lunch seizure that victimized his granddaughter. “If the schools can’t figure out a better way of doing it than that, they don’t need to be running the schools.”
[Image: WAVE-TV Screen Capture]