'They Can't Deny At-Risk Youth': Mother Upset After School Cuts Off 6-Year-Old Daughter's Lunches

| by Sean Kelly
article imagearticle image

A mother in Brighton, Colorado, was shocked and outraged to receive a letter from the director of her daughter's school, saying that the 6-year-old was no longer eligible to receive school lunches.

ABC 7 reports Michelle Hernandez said her daughter, Isabella, had missed a week of school at the Brighton Leadership Academy because she was sick with the flu. School manager Kimberly Vega, asked Hernandez to come to the school and talk about her daughter's extended absence, but the mother didn't have a means of transportation and asked that the conversation be held over the phone. According to reports, Vega became angry that Hernandez couldn't travel to the school and started yelling at her. 

Later that day, Hernandez said Isabella came home from school with a letter, signed by Vega's husband and Leadership Academy director Jaime Vega, informing the mother that her daughter would no longer be allowed to receive school lunches effective immediately. Jaime Vega is also the pastor at Fearless Brighton.

"Your child has exceeded the amount of absences per the Attendance Agreement, and no further lunch’s [sic] will be provided for your child for the rest of this school year," the letter read. "Please provide a lunch for your child effective this day."

When Hernandez read the letter, she knew she had to take action.

"Oh no, I’ve got to do something about this," she thought, according to ABC 7. "They can’t deny at-risk youth their lunches."

A spokesperson for HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op, the organization associated with the school, responded to the controversy, saying that the letter was "unauthorized."

"HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op offers a universal free lunch program to our 3,000 students across the state, including at Brighton Leadership Academy.  Our students are never denied lunch," HOPE Communications Manager Amanda Kalina said. "There has definitely been a misunderstanding in this situation, which we are addressing with further training for our staff.  We have been working closely with this family to rectify the situation and find ways to further support them."

Hernandez said she believes other students have been given a similar letter, though she feels that most parents wouldn't have spoken up about it like she did.

"If they get a letter like that, they’re not going to rock the boat," she said. "They’re not going to do anything, so they’re going to have to find other ways to feed their children.”

When asked if HOPE was aware of other parents receiving similar letters, Kalina said the co-op was "investigating this matter."

Source: 7News Denver / Photo Credit: