Elementary school throws away lunches of students owing account balances
Maybe Ebenezer Scrooge wasn't such a bad guy after all.
A group of up to 40 students at Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City
had their lunches taken away and then thrown in the trash due to
outstanding balances on their accounts, as reported by the Salt Lake Tribune.
Erica Lukes, a parent of one of the students, told the newspaper,
"It's despicable. These are young children that shouldn't be punished or
humiliated for something the parents obviously need to clear up."
Lukes' daughter, fifth-grader Sophia Isom, told KSL-TV
that a district employee took her lunch away and said, "Go get a milk."
Sophia recalled, "I came back and asked, 'What's going on?' Then she
handed me an orange. She said, 'You don't have any money in your
account, so you can't get lunch.’”
So, what happened? The Salt Lake City district posted an apology and an explanation on Facebook.
A "child nutrition manager" had been sent to the school on Monday to
investigate the "large number of students who had zero or negative
balances in their school lunch accounts." Officials said they then began
Tuesday, the calls to parents continued. When lunch time came, students
who still had negative balances were told they could not have a full
meal but were given a piece of fruit and a milk for lunch. The district
does this so children who don’t have money for lunch can at least have
some food and not go without.
Unfortunately, children are
served lunch before they get to the computer for payment. The children
who didn’t have enough money in their accounts had their normal food
trays taken from them and were given the fruit and milk.
This situation could have and should have been handled in a different manner. We apologize.
The post on Facebook also goes on to acknowledge that the incident was "an embarrassing and humiliating situation."
The district, according to
KSL-TV, contends it did try to warn parents about the outstanding
balances. However, Lukes said she was not notified.
"Even if they did try to send the
word out, you still don't do that to a child," she told KSL-TV. "You
don't take a lunch out of their hands."
UPDATE: The Salt Lake Tribune
reports that two Utah lawmakers, Sens. Jim Dabakis, D-Salt Lake City,
and Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, held a news conference at the school on
Weiler called the school's
actions "bullying" and "an abuse of power," adding, "This person came
into a school and used her power to humiliate and embarrass children and
I think we ought to draw a line and say that’s not acceptable
The school district issued another apology,
at the news conference. Spokesman Jason Olsen said, "This was a
mistake. This was handled wrong." And he added that food shouldn't have
been taken from the students "once they went through that line."
Follow Mike Krumboltz on Twitter (@mikekrumboltz).
Edited by Alias_Avi - Jan 30 2014 at 10:58pm