“A” For Effort?
June 14, 2016 – Kids often get sent home from school with a gold star or a permission slip, but one Alabama elementary student was sent home with a stamp on his arm that read “I need lunch money.”
Jon Bivens’ son came home with a smiley face stamp on his arm during the last week of school at Gardendale Elementary School. When the father noticed the words underneath the smile, his expression changed from happy to angry.
“It’s Not Okay.”
“When you start stamping a message on a child’s body instead of calling…it’s not okay,” he told AL.com. “It’s a form of bullying and shaming the kids.”
Bivens told the publication that the normal process for letting parents know that the lunch money account is low is through an email, but they never received one. Their son usually brings lunch from home but still likes to buy ice cream and other snacks. At the time of, what Bivens refers to as, the branding his son still had $1.38 in his lunch money balance and wasn’t planning on adding more since the year was coming to an end.
The monetary amount isn’t the issue for him though.
“I don’t care if my son has a -$100 balance. I don’t care. Send me a note home or an email. Where can I draw the line regarding my parental rights?”
Gardendale Elementary School Principal, Laura Ware, also spoke to Al.com expressing that she was not aware of this particular occurrence but knows the lunchroom department chooses different tactics to let parents know the balance. She said it could be emails, notes, stickers or stamps. She also added that the school would be happy to only do emails instead of stamps for any family and added “We want to communicate in a way that our parents are happy with.”
Bivens’ son did not finish out the remaining days of the school year on campus.
User comments on the incident expressed agreement with associating the stamp with shaming but some also understood why the method might be used.