Did Bonita Springs Charter deny students Thanksgiving meal?
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
BONITA SPRINGS, Fla - Did the Bonita Springs Charter School turn some kids away from a pre-Thanksgiving potluck feast because they didn't bring in food to contribute?
Janine Primeau says her kids were told they wouldn't be allowed to eat food brought in for a Thanksgiving potluck if she didn't bring something to the table.
But during a time when money is tight she wants to know why the school would stop some students from taking part?
"It was extremely wrong," said Primeau. "And it was not in the spirit of Thanksgiving."
While the sign at Bonita Springs Charter School wishes everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, Primeau says the school refused to let some students take part in the Thanksgiving potluck.
"My kids felt sorry for them," said Primeau. "My kids were disturbed by the fact that they couldn't eat with anybody else."
Primeau says her two kids almost didn't get to enjoy the turkey feast either.
"For the kids that didn't bring in anything," said Primeau, "They would have to get the regular lunch and sit and watch the other kids eat."
Primeau says she was "cornered" into buying food she didn't budget for so her kids wouldn't be left out at lunch.
Primeau is a full-time law student. So when the school asked her to buy certain items for three classes she said she couldn't afford it.
"Money is extremely tight," she said. "My husband is working 60 hours a week to provide for us...we're watching every penny."
When she told the school she wouldn't be able to contribute financially to the potluck, her kids said they were told they couldn't take part and would have to eat cafeteria food instead of the turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing.
"My kids came home crying and in a panic," said Primeau, "that they were going to be excluded from the Thanksgiving fest if they did not bring in the required items."
Primeau says she felt cornered into buying food she didn't budget for so her kids wouldn't be left out at lunch.
She emailed her son's seventh grade teacher asking if that was true.
"I'm sorry if the policy seemed unfair," the teacher wrote. "But if we gave students the option to not bring in anything...there would be a strong possibility of not having enough. They were trying to avoid that so the event would be successful."
Fox 4 contacted the charter school. A spokeswoman tells us that is not their policy.
"That must be her mistake. She is a first year teacher," said Bonita Springs Charter School spokeswoman Colleen Reynolds. "That is not the school policy. It never has been the school policy. It must have been an error on her part."
Reynolds insists any child who wanted the Thanksgiving meal wasn't turned away.
"There has not been a child who was denied the ability to choose to eat a Thanksgiving meal," said Reynolds.
But Primeau says students were turned away.
She followed up with us by email to say her daughter's eighth grade teacher told the class "if they didn't bring in food they couldn't eat the Thanksgiving meal."
She also tells us leftovers were handed out in her daughter's fifth grade class "so that the kids in her class who didn't bring in any food could eat."
Fox 4 reached out to the school's spokeswoman for a response but we did not immediately hear back.
Reynolds did tell us cafeteria food was available for students and no student was denied food.