Canon-McMillan School District Superintendent Michael Daniels spoke with WPXI on Thursday to clear up what he calls misinformation concerning a former cafeteria worker’s decision to resign over the district's new lunch policy.
The policy, which affects students whose accounts are delinquent, has gained national attention since Stacy Koltiska went public, saying she resigned after having to enforce the new rules, which she considered a “lunch shaming” policy.
Under the guidelines of the new policy, “After overdrawing the cafeteria account $25, students in grade K-six will be able to charge an alternate lunch, which will consist of a sandwich, a fruit/vegetable serving and milk. Students in grades seven-12 will not be allowed to charge any additional lunches.”
Koltiska, who worked in the cafeteria at Wylandville Elementary School, told WPXI on Monday that she was told to take food away from a young boy because his lunch account was overdrawn by more than $25.
“And he was like, ‘Oh, chicken!’ And his eyes welled up with tears and it was so heartbreaking and I'll never forget it,” she said. Daniels disputed her claims.
“It’s my understanding the kid never had tears in his or her eyes, and there was no food thrown away. And ultimately, the child ate a hot meal that day,” the superintendent said. “I would never stand by, knowing that we had humiliated or embarrassed a child. That is not OK, and that did not happen.”
Daniels said the student did have a delinquent account earlier that week, but by lunchtime the day of the alleged incident, the boy’s balance was paid and he ate a hot meal.
The Canon-McMillan School District is not the first in the area to implement such a policy.
Daniels said since implementing the policy, the district has seen overdrawn lunch balances shrink.
“As of Aug. 11, we had 302 delinquent accounts that were at the $25 or over mark. As of Sept. 16 – three weeks in – those delinquent accounts went down to 66,” he said.
Daniels said that no matter how much a student owes, no child will go hungry. He said the district will examine the program in the future.
“Because of the heightened awareness of our policy, the board will look at whether there are other options to consider,” Daniels said.
District leaders said applications for free and reduced lunch plans have also increased because of the new rules. They said they’ll look at the lunch policy again in October to see if anything needs to be changed.