Parents claim school 'bullied' child, trashed lunch over past due account

Parents claim school 'bullied' child; Trashed lunch because of past due account
Published: May. 29, 2015 at 2:37 AM EDT|Updated: Jul. 13, 2015 at 4:05 AM EDT
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Leslie Chilton (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Leslie Chilton (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Doug Joyce (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Doug Joyce (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kim Wright (Source: WAVE 3 News)
Kim Wright (Source: WAVE 3 News)

BEDFORD, KY (WAVE) – Several parents are fired up after hearing a student's hot lunch was dumped in the trash in front of her classmates because her lunch account was past due.

Parents claim Bedford Elementary School did something it preaches against: In their words, "bullying" the child, not to mention wasting food to embarrass her.

On May 20 an elementary school lunch was packed with a hidden punch a child never saw coming.

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"Someone came and took her lunch while she was sitting there with her friends and everybody else," said the girl's aunt, Leslie Chilton, who also happens to be the Bedford Elementary PTO Treasurer.

Chilton said it would be embarrassing for any child who has no idea their lunch account had a negative balance.

"An actual employee told me that afternoon because I was at school," she said of the incident." It was awful to think about her being there, sitting there and she was crying. She's a shy girl anyway, she's 10 years old and she's knows what's going on."

Chilton said other people gave her the same account of what happened – the girl's hot lunch dumped in the garbage and she was handed a replacement lunch, a cheese sandwich.

"I think it's all bullying," the girl's grandfather, Doug Joyce, said. "They kick kids out for bullying, they need to kick grown-ups out for bullying."

Joyce said his granddaughter's family has money to pay the bill, but didn't realize the account was past due. He said even when a family doesn't have the cash, a child isn't the one who should pay. "There's no sense of treating any kid that way," said Joyce. "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 has a child who attends Bedford Elementary.

"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."

Wright said she was outraged after she got no response from the school system. She started a petition to change the district's policy. As of Thursday it had nearly 1,100 signatures.

On the petition many people commented that similar situations had happened to them over the years.

"How is it ethical? How is it moral to do this to children who have no control over the situation, whatever the situation may be?" Wright said. "Whether it's the fault of the school or the parents, the child does not need to be in the equation."

Ever since word got out about the incident, several people have donated money to cover costs for other children's lunches. They hope the school board will take up the issue at its next meeting.

WAVE 3 News attempted to reach district's superintendent's for comment, but despite more than one request as of Thursday night our calls were not returned.

Late Thursday Trimble County School Board Chair Tony Walker did contact WAVE 3 News and said they have decided to hold a special called meeting for the public on June 17. Details about the meeting have not been released.

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