Kennett cafeteria workers should show more compassion

Editor:

It is not often that I read the Kennett Paper and feel anger and outrage. But this week’s Kennett Paper article (March 27) about an overdue lunch account at Greenwood Elementary made me furious.

I am the grandmother of a 9-year-old boy also diagnosed with PDD-NOs. these children deal with more than most can imagine every single day. To think that any adult from Mark Tracy down to the cafeteria worker who took Alex Coan’s lunch tray away thought it appropriate to deny him his simple lunch of a hot dog, fruit and milk. No child should ever be punished, embarrassed or made to feel less because of his parents’ oversight or forgetfulness.

To think this meal was then thrown away is truly unbelievable. Mr. Tracy said it was handled discreetly. Are you kidding me? For whom? Alex knew what happened. He knew his lunch was removed and in his eyes, an unacceptable replacement was offered. Don’t think for one moment that PDD-NOS kids aren’t smart.

And don’t kid yourself – elementary school children are very aware of anything that makes another student “different.” That unacceptable cheese sandwich made Alex sand out as “different that day.

I don’t care about Mr. Tracy’s “sophisticated efficient system,” or his “accomplished strong cafeteria manager at Greenwood Elementary.” What is completely missing here is adult compassion and empathy for a child who already deals with more than his fair share. Believe me, I witness this up close and personal watching my grandson navigate through life every single day.

I don’t care about any of Mr. Tracy’s excuses or rhetoric or the whys and wherefores of the overdue account. Rather, I am thinking about a 9-year-old disabled boy who was thoughtlessly and poorly handled and rewarded with a lousy cheese sandwich. It is sad to think that the Kennett School District’s policies are this unfeeling toward a student who deserves much better than what he got. I wonder what Mr. Tracy intends to do when cafeteria staff is confronted with the next child with an overdue account who is on the gluten-free/casein-free diet making a cheese sandwich completely unacceptable.

On a personal note, this incident makes me beyond grateful that my PDD-NOS grandson is a student at a school where this situation would never ever happen – not in a million years.

As a taxpayer in both the Kennett and Unoinville-Chadds Ford districts, we thought it the responsibility of the educators and staff to care for the welfare of their individual students and their needs, not tally up lunch room dollars. Personally this type of “bean counting” is despicable considering the taxes charged.

Mr. Tracy reports that this incident “is a learning opportunity where we can learn and grow.” Btu he cannot change how it made Alex feel that day.

And as for Mr. Tracy’s “favorable” conversation with Christine Coan, I wonder what “conversation” was directed toward Alex, as he watched his lunch being taken away. Did anyone stop for a minute to actually care?

Beth Robinson

Pocopson Township