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Bennett didn’t use the word bullying but also said, "We have somehow created a culture in which not one person, but several people thought this was OK."
Board member Douglas Nelson, however, said he doesn’t share the view that the incident is indicative of bullying on the superintendent’s part.
Clara also criticized the district’s policies as not being clear enough.
"There’s just a lot of ambiguity there," Clara said of the child nutrition department’s policies, "and if I worked in your department, I could definitely see tripping up."
As part of his report, Orton said the district will never take a child’s meal tray away again; department procedures and communication standards will be followed; parents will be notified when they have low and/or negative balances; and students will be able to accrue a week of negative balances and still receive full meals. Orton said the district now has about $15,000 in outstanding lunch fees not paid by parents.
A number of parents, however, walked away from the meeting still somewhat unsatisfied.
Lonardo said she didn’t think the report was enough, calling it vague.
Parent Jackelin Slack also said she was still unclear about the problems with the payment system. She said there’s still a "cloud of shame" hanging over the heads of those employees put on leave, regardless of district leaders’ explanation that they weren’t put on leave for disciplinary reasons.
And parent Sarah Turley, whose child also had her lunch taken last week, said she was glad to hear the board discuss the issue but: "It was never answered who decided this. That accountability and responsibility has never been answered."
Earlier in the meeting, Turley was one of four parents who addressed the board.
"I think that we need to put children first and we need to put bill paying second," Turley said. "This second-class lunch — let’s give them a milk, let’s give them a fruit — is entirely substandard.
"I know this has been happening at other schools," she added, "but really I think it is a travesty in this state where we say we care about children to offer them anything but a full and hot lunch."
Turley said she’d like to see whoever made the decision to yank the lunches apologize to children in their classrooms.
"And you might want to bring 600 cupcakes," she said.
Orton said during the meeting, "We’ll find some way to apologize."
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