Family members of a Kentucky elementary student say they believe school officials are guilty of “bullying” the girl after allegations surfaced that a lunchroom employee threw the girl’s lunch in the trash because her lunch account had a negative balance.
Leslie Chilton is the girl’s aunt and the treasurer for the Bedford Elementary PTO in Bedford, Kentucky. She told WAVE News that she just happened to be at the school on May 20 when the alleged incident occurred.
Chilton said an employee at the school told her what happened.
“Someone came and took her lunch while she was sitting there with her friends and everybody else,” Chilton said.
“It was awful to think about her being there, sitting there and she was crying," she added. "She's a shy girl anyway, she's 10 years old but she's knows what's going on."
The girl, who has not been named, was reportedly given a cheese sandwich to eat after her original lunch was thrown in the trash.
Her grandfather, Doug Joyce, said the family has the money to cover the account; they just didn’t realize it was past due. Regardless, he said, the school’s behavior was unacceptable.
"I think it's all bullying,” he told WAVE News. "They kick kids out for bullying, they need to kick grown-ups out for bullying.
“There's no sense of treating any kid that way,” he added. “If the schools can't figure out a better way of doing it than that, they don't need to be running the schools.”
Kim Wright, a parent with kids at the school, put together a petition, asking that the school change its policies regarding lunch accounts. As of Thursday she had collected 1,100 signatures.
She said parents were concerned after they heard about the alleged incident.
"The other kids did notice," she said, "several parents have contacted me saying their kids came home upset because their friend's food was taken.”
The district’s superintendent did not return calls from WAVE News seeking comment.
But Trimble County School Board Chair Tony Walker did contact WAVE and said the board had scheduled a meeting for the public to address the incident. The meeting is set to take place June 17.
It’s not the first time a school district has landed in hot water over tossing a student’s lunch.
In January 2014, Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City made headlines when school officials allegedly took away lunches from as many as 40 students and tossed the meals in the trash because the students’ lunch accounts were past due, ABC News reported.
In May 2014, a Michigan mother in the city of Dowagiac said a school employee at Dowagiac Union High School tossed her son’s hot lunch in the trash, in front of his classmates, because the boy’s lunch account was $4.95 past due, The Huffington Post reported.