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SLC school board will meet to answer school lunch questions

Published March 4, 2014 9:30 pm

Outrage • Parents give board members a grilling, saying they are frustrated with a lack of accountability.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When it comes to explaining why dozens of kids had their lunches trashed in January, Salt Lake City School District board members told parents Tuesday they will try to answer some of their questions next week.

Parents, however, are still frustrated with the time it's taken to get answers and some of the actions — or lack of actions — the district has taken so far.

The board decided Tuesday to meet for one hour on March 12 at 4:30 p.m. to publicly discuss and answer questions submitted by parents.

Parents from Uintah Elementary gave board members a list of questions last month after as many as 40 kids had their cafeteria lunches thrown away, and replaced with fruit and milk, because their parents were behind on payments. The incident, first reported by The Salt Lake Tribune, made national news.

The district has since apologized and pledged to only serve kids full lunches from now on, among other changes.

A handful of Uintah parents, however, still took the board and Superintendent McKell Withers to task during public comment at the board's meeting Tuesday. They want to know who was responsible for making the decision to take lunches and are frustrated that has not yet been answered.

Parent Kevin Conway said board members seem more interested in helping the superintendent than children.

"Board members appear to be abdicating the trust and authority we voters have granted them to the buearocracy of the district and superintendent," Conway said.

Parents also criticized the board for putting Uintah's cafeteria manager on leave, saying she was not responsible for the decision (she has since returned to work). Parent Ashley Hoopes said she's not optimistic many of the parents' questions will be answered next week because board members have already said they will not give details when it comes to personnel.

The board will continue to accept questions through March 11 that are emailed to kristina.kindl@slcschools.org or that are mailed to district offices at 440 East 100 South, Salt Lake City, UT 84111-1891.

The board also on Tuesday decided to officially hire Squire & Co. to conduct an external audit of district procedures and financial issues related to the incident. The board also decided to issue a request for proposals for companies to look into the personnel side of the issue after representatives from Squire said they aren't able to conduct that side of the investigation.

Board president Kristi Swett said the Squire audits might cost between $5,000 and $7,000.