It may not be exactly what outraged parents and concerned citizens are asking for, but in a first step to uncover why dozens of school children in Utah had their lunches forcibly ripped from their hands and thrown in the garbage, the school’s cafeteria manager and a district supervisor for Salt Lake City have been placed on paid leave pending an investigation.
According to the AP, when asked who the suspended employees are, Salt Lake City School District spokesman Jason Olsen said “he could not identify or offer further details on the workers because of personnel privacy issues.” That’s not going to sit well with a lot of people following this story however.
As previously reported by John Prager on AATTP, the process of figuring out which children had depleted their lunch accounts was a recipe for disaster from the beginning.
[box type=”shadow”]Jake Olsen, A Salt Lake City District spokesman explained that the district’s child nutrition department had elected to deprive students of their lunches because a large number of students at the school owed money, though some question the sensibility of wasting a large amount of food and traumatizing children in order to deal with an issue of payment.
Olsen went on to say that cafeteria workers had no way of knowing who owed money until the children had received their lunches. If a child was found to owe money, his or her food was taken away and thrown in the trash because once food is served to a student, it can’t be served to another (once again calling into question the sensibility of throwing the food away).
Children whose lunches were taken were given only fruit and milk, thus depriving them of a balanced meal and the energy needed to perform at full capacity.[/box]
As can be expected, the school board and the school in question have been receiving a heavy flow of angry criticisms and comments from parents of the children who went hungry, and concerned citizens from across the country. The response has been so great, that in many schools throughout the area, principals have already set up slush funds in their schools to pay for the lunches of children while their accounts get settled in a timely manner.
“People are upset, obviously, by the way this has been handled because it’s really needless and quite mean,” said parent Erica Lukes to the AP. “Regardless if it’s $2, $5, you don’t go about rectifying a situation with a balance by having a child go through that.”
Although only two people have been suspended with pay over having humiliated, bullied and embarrassed almost 40 children in front of their classmates, this is a rapid and swift first move that hopefully will be followed up with more serious action and policy changes.
Or maybe some heads should roll …