When a bus driver decided to air his thoughts about a starving student, he went over the line. Because he shared his views in the public forum that is Facebook, he quickly learned that words posted online can have unintended consequences. Because his words were considered offensive to some, especially the family of the child he reported as starving, the bus driver had to face the music – and lost his job as a result.
Because of the bus driver’s Facebook post, he lost his job and was barred from ever gaining employment through the school district ever again. Although he was a long-time employee, that did not matter as his words took precedence over the reputation he had slowly built for himself over the years.
Now Johnny Cook is still trying to figure out where he went wrong. He lived in Georgia and had driven students to and from the Harlason County Middle School for years.
Besides his work with the children as their bus driver, he also trains horses in the area. Cook is also known as a caring community-minded individual who likes to put his best foot forward and make a positive difference in his county.
On one day, a regular student boarded the bus and immediately told Cook about his situation. He articulated to the bus driver that he was extremely hungry. Because Cook had been around kids for a long time and knew not to take everything too seriously – middle schoolers are particularly fond of employing hyperbole – he asked a few questions to get the facts straight.
The boy was leaving school on his way home. He told Cook that the school denied him lunch because he had a balance of 40 cents on his lunch money account. The school refused to give food to “debtors” according to the student. This outraged the bus driver who was doing the work for the kids.
This boy was already on a reduced-payment plan for lunch. Nevertheless, the boy told Cook that the cruel school administrators didn’t want to hand over lunch until he found the four dimes he owed the school.
That sparked Cook to write a scathing Facebook post ousting the school for the negligent behavior.
Cook include words like:
“A middle schooler got on my bus this evening and said, “Mr. Johnny I’m hungry,” I said why are you, hungry buddy? Didn’t you eat lunch? He said no sir I didn’t have any money on my account. I said they didn’t let you charge it? No sir.
“The child is already on reduced lunch, and we can’t let him eat. Are you kidding me? I’m certain there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they don’t have .40 on their account.”
Cook then started getting critical of the school, which was probably why he lost his job.
“As a taxpayer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than give food stamps to a crack head.”
Cook then provided his personal cellphone number so people could call and ask him for money whenever they came across a hungry child.
He lost his job shortly after the post went viral.