Investigation into Stanley-Boyd lunch controversy concludes

Stanley (WQOW) – The investigation into the controversy over Stanley-Boyd school lunches has concluded. 

As News 18 has reported, several students and parents said their lunches were thrown out, or they were denied meals, because of negative account balances. 

Related Story: Stanley-Boyd launches investigation into lunchroom controversy.
Related Story: Stanley-Boyd School District apologizes

News 18 has acquired a copy of the Wisconsin Association of School Board investigation.

According to that report, a mixture of miscommunication, and pressure from the superintendent to curb the problem, led to at least one student having their meal thrown out with no alternate meal offered.

The report found the superintendent and his administrative staff held numerous meetings to address a chronic problem – students getting food with negative account balances. At times, the district was seeing deficit of $1,500 in its accounts.

The report found Stanley-Boyd Superintendent Jim Jones did not direct staff to take away lunches, but he also did not give clear instructions on how the situation should be handled.

In a letter sent to his administrative staff on May 5, Jones said,

"Not sure what part of "zero" we are misunderstanding? We have talked about this board policy in the past. I don’t really care what any of you think because what you think does not matter. The only thing that matters is that we have a board policy that indicates that every account has to be positive. There is no leeway for a negative account. So[,] I don’t understand this?"
 

He further instructed his staff there is a board policy that indicates every account has to be positive and, "No leeway for a negative account." 

In April, the high school principal Jeff Koenig admitted to throwing out a portion of a student’s meal. However, seven students say the intent was not malicious and Koenig told the investigator he immediately went to the superintendent and said he was morally opposed to the practice.

After that, the school district tried to tweak its approach to have students with negative balances get notes from the office, but the students interviewed said the policy made them feel embarrassed. This issue was discussed at a school board meeting at the end of May.

"It is humiliating to go through line and have everybody see that you don’t have enough money to eat, to be fed. We are expected to learn at a high level, we are expected to be the best students we can, but we cannot do that if we do not have food in our stomachs," said Stanley-Boyd Freshman Annabelle Sanchez at a school board meeting back in May.

After that meeting, the board agreed to call for an independent investigation to get to the root of the matter. 

The investigator notes in the report changes have already begun. Email notifications about low account balances will be sent out to parents daily and the school will implement an online system to check balances and pay by the upcoming school year.
 

 

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