School Principal Fired After Taking Stance Against Cafeteria Hand Stamping Policy

| by Jonathan Wolfe

The former principal of Peak to Peak Charter school in Lafayette, Colorado is claiming she was fired because she was trying to prevent students from being embarrassed at lunch time. The former principal, Noelle Roni, was staunchly opposed to the school’s policy of stamping the hands of students who didn’t have enough money in their lunch accounts.

“As soon as I saw it happening, I was like, ‘No, this is not OK,'” Roni said. “The students felt so humiliated, like they had done something wrong. They didn't want to go into the lunchroom any more. It's unethical and disrespectful.”

Roni, fired on November, spoke out on her firing for the first time recently. Prior to her new statements, she only said she was fired in retaliation for “standing up for children’s rights and against activities that stigmatized children.”

According to a memo from Roni’s lawyer, the former principal first became aware of the school’s hand stamping policy in September. Once she was aware of it, Roni met with the food services manager and asked that the policy be stopped. Her request went ignored.

Weeks later, Roni met with both the food services manager and school administrators. The administrators, including executive director of education Kelly Reeser, agreed that the hand-stamping should be stopped. Curiously, the food services manager reportedly resigned immediately following the meeting.

Reeser and other administrators managed to blame the food service manager’s resignation on Roni. The former principal was accused of dealing with the employee in an unprofessional manner. Reeser demanded Roni take full responsibility for the manager quitting. When Rono refused, Reeser placed a disciplinary letter in her employee file citing her handling of the situation as “unprofessional conduct.”

This letter was later used as a justification in firing Roni. But Roni says the whole situation was a setup.

“Reeser used this incident and my stance against it as an example of my being unprofessional and insubordinate, which eventually led to me being terminated,” Roni said. “You put kids first. That's more important than whether I'm going to get along with my co-worker.”

Roni and her lawyer have not decided if they will take any action against the school at this time.

The issue of kids without lunch money being publicly singled out in front of peers has been controversial for some time. In October, for example, a California mother was upset after her son was forced to walk around school wearing a sticker reading "Lunch money please."

Sources: Daily Camera, Denver Post