Sunday, February 2, 2014

Two Placed On Administrative Leave For Uintah's Elementary School Child Lunch Seizure And Trashing Incident

A child-nutrition cafeteria manager at the Uintah Elementary School and her school district supervisor in Salt Lake City decided to take away already served lunch from children and then discarded meals in trash because parents owed for meals.

By H. Nelson Goodson
February 2, 2014

Salt Lake City, Utah - On Wednesday, the Uintah Elementary in Salt Lake City hit the national spotlight after its child-nutrition cafeteria manager at Uintah, Shirley Canham and her school district supervisor decided to take away the already served $2.00 lunch on Tuesday from at least 40 students and then threw their lunches in the trash, as a result of their parents incurred debt for school lunch fee. School lunch servers and other students helplessly witnessed the incident. 
Attempts by the school district were made to contact parents that owed lunch money for their children on Monday and Tuesday. But, Canham and her district supervisor decided to deal with the lunch debt by seizing the students lunch once it was served and trashing it. Then the students targeted by the child-nutrition staff were just given milk and fruit instead as a standard procedure.
Canham's field supervisor is Peggy Bjornn and the director of the Salt Lake City School District child-nutrition is Kelly Orton, according to its website.
Other Uintah Elementary School child-nutrition staff included Michelle Thompson, Aura Avelar and Anmaria Spencer, according to Uintah's website.
Jason Olsen, the Salt Lake School District's spokesman said during a press conference, that the lunches shouldn't have never been taken away once the children had gone through the line and had been served.
An online petition on Change dot org says, "By all indications, this entire situation started with the school lunch online payment plan not notifying parents that their automatic payments were no longer being honored. As a result, the District decided to send their Child Nutrition Manager to the school and take the students lunches away, rather than notify the parents so that we could simply update our online payment plans." It also says, that Canham was placed on administrative leave on Friday and that she was in tears and couldn't stop the district manager (her supervisor) from seizing the $80 worth of lunch meals from the kids and trashing it.
Canham and her district supervisor who has not been been identified have been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the Salt Lake School District's investigation. The Uintah Elementary School's Facebook page was temporarily shut down due to inundated comments by outraged parents and local citizens calling for those involved to get fired for their poor judgement and wasting food, while local low income students go hungry. The principal at the school facing a national embarrassment called it, a food waste, a misunderstanding and poor judgment in a statement. 
On Saturday, Principal Chelsea Maluof released a statement to parents saying, "What happened last Tuesday was not standard practice at Uintah Elementary. I am sincerely sorry that students were humiliated and food was wasted. This is not the Uintah way. While I am the Principal at Uintah, this will not happen again. Once I was made aware of what had happened, I immediately began working with school and district personnel to create a plan to make sure of this. I love these kids, and I take my responsibility to protect them very seriously. District officials have assured me they are in complete support of us, and they are investigating thoroughly to create safeguards so this won't happen at any Salt Lake City School District school again. Although the investigation is still underway, it appears there was a misunderstanding, use of poor judgment, and mistakes were made. I believe in the growth that comes from learning from mistakes and an opportunity to demonstrate a lesson has been learned. I believe in forgiveness." Maluof also wrote, that she had talked to Canham and hopes people can forgive and move on.
Maluof didn't mention, if the school district would be providing counselling for those students affected by the humiliation and emotional stress caused by the lunch seizure incident.
State legislators, Salt Lake City District School officials and the Utah governor are now working on a statewide bill to make sure this kind of drastic measures don't occurred again and prevent Utah's school children from ever going hungry again at local schools, despite incurred lunch debts by parents who do pay taxes.

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