Dad upset about daughter's light lunch

KINGMAN - Sean Kimbley was disturbed to learn his daughter, Taelor, did not get a full lunch Tuesday at La Senita Elementary School.

When he could not get a satisfactory explanation for it from Principal Sue Hamilton or Karma Jones, Kingman Unified School District director of food services, he contacted the Miner.

Taelor is a kindergarten student. Lunch on May 6 was an Italian meatball sandwich, green beans, peaches and milk.

"I pay by check for Taelor's lunches," Kimbley said. "She ran out of money and they normally send home a note when the account is depleted, but I got no note in this case.

"I also have three cell phones and nobody from school called me about it. I spoke with the principal and she acted as if it's no problem for a child not to get meat with a meal. This is not right."

Taelor was served the bread for the sandwich, green beans, peaches and milk. She did not get the meatballs, which comprised the entree. Kimbley only found out what had happened when Taelor got home from school that day.

Hamilton acknowledged having a phone conversation with Kimbley about the situation.

"In the past, Taelor had run out of lunch money and we gave her a slip to take home about it," Hamilton said. "We sent home calendars in April and at the start of May telling parents meals could not be charged, so we warned them ahead of time."

Those calendars alerting parents to the no-charge policy beginning in May was why no note was sent home, she said.

"I was standing by the lunch line that day and a couple of other kids had the same problem," Hamilton said. "I asked all of them if they wished to call home.

"Two said no, they would take what was offered. Taelor did not respond to the question."

In such cases, the school will not allow a child without money to go hungry. There are some food items in the nurse's office and snacks in teacher rooms to "tide over" a child that day, Hamilton said.

Jones said student accounts are being closed out for the year in May, hence no further charging of meals is permitted. That fact is put on menus and students are told toward the end of April they must have cash for meals in May.

A note normally is given to the child's teacher to send home when meal money is forgotten the rest of the school year. But she can't ensure that note gets home, Jones said.

"When an account is getting low we tell the student, you have only two meals left, so tell your mother to bring in money for the account," Jones said. "We send home notes with how much money is left (prior to May).

"But calling every parent with a student in the district when an account is low becomes a manpower impossibility, given the number of students we feed.

"Somewhere along the line the parent must take responsibility to ensure their child has lunch money."

Jones said Taelor was served everything but the entree on May 6, enough to sustain her until she got home.

Jones apologized for what happened, Kimbley said.

"I'd like to get a message out to parents that maybe schools can find a better way of notifying them about this sort of thing," he said. "It's wrong not to be notified, and to give a child a bun with no meat in it is a slap in the face."

"Every kid has a folder they bring home with homework. Can't they tape the note to that folder? How many other kids is this happening to and the parents either don't know about it or don't raise a fuss?"