A former principal at a Colorado charter elementary school is now claiming that she was fired after she tried to prevent cafeteria workers from stamping the hands of students who received free lunch. Two months after her ouster, Noelle Roni, former principal at Peak to Peak Charter School is now speaking out about the embarrassment kids endured because they received free lunch.
Students at Peak to Peak Charter School received the “Scarlet Letter” stamp on their hands if they were free lunch recipients or if they didn’t have enough money in their school lunch account to pay for their meal.
“As soon as I saw it happening, I was like, ‘No, this is not OK,’” she told the Daily Camera. “The students felt so humiliated, like they had done something wrong. They didn’t want to go into the lunchroom any more. It’s unethical and disrespectful.”
But standing up for her students caused the principal to lose her job.
According to Roni’s lawyer, she discovered in September the stamping procedure and demanded they stop it.
Roni then met with the food services manager and school leadership, who agreed that the hand stamping should stop, according to her attorney. The food services manager immediately resigned.
Three weeks later, a grandparent came to Roni upset that her grandchildren, who qualified for free lunches, were getting their hands stamped and were too embarrassed to go through the lunch line. A staff member also brought up a similar situation with a kindergarten student.
Roni’s lawyer said that after she refused to take the blame for the food services manager’s resignation, a disciplinary letter was placed in her file for “unprofessional conduct.”
“[Executive Director Kelly Reeser] used this incident and my stance against it as an example of my being unprofessional and insubordinate, which eventually led to me being terminated,” Roni told the paper. “You put kids first. That’s more important than whether I’m going to get along with my co-worker.”
Peak to Peak’s board of directors refused to directly address the allegations regarding hand stamping, but said in a statement on Sunday that “Peak to Peak does not condone or tolerate unlawful retaliation.”