6-year-old given humiliating public punishment for being one minute tardy

Feb 26, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. ET
Image: IStock/Getty Images

An Oregon elementary school principal is under fire for the unusual way she allegedly punishes students who show up late. Her "excessive tardy" policy, which she calls a "lunch detention," has kids crying at the thought of the humiliating way they will be shamed for not making it to school on time.

Missy Fitzsimmons, principal at Lincoln Elementary in Grants Pass, Oregon, reportedly requires tardy students to sit alone at a lunch table, far from the other kids. She then places them behind a divider so they can’t see anything but their lunch tray and puts a plastic bucket with a large letter "D" onto the table. She says the "D" stands for "detention," but it is eerily similar to the "D" on dunce caps of old.

kid bullied at school

Image: Laura Hoover via Facebook

This shameful policy came to light thanks to the Facebook plea of concerned grandmother Laura Hoover. Hoover posted photos of her 6-year-old grandson, Hunter Cmelo, serving one of these lunch detentions. Hunter's mother, Nicole Garloff, had returned to school early to check on her son, concerned about how fearful he'd been that morning when they were running late. She said Hunter had been crying about having a lunch detention, and she wanted to make sure he was OK.

Hunter has been late to school six times this semester thanks to his parents' unreliable car and his mother's medical condition. How is a 6-year-old child being punished for his parents' issues? More important, how does a school administrator think it's appropriate to shame and bully a small child as a means of discipline?

Cruelness teaches kids nothing but how to be mean. Shaming only teaches them to expect debasement. We want our kids to be empathetic and kind, but it's an unrealistic expectation when they are learning bullying from those charged with their care.

Thanks to Hoover's Facebook plea, Mrs. Fitzsimmons' archaic tardy protocol is being looked at by district officials. Hopefully a new policy can be but in place, one that doesn't leave small children shamed, humiliated and afraid to show up one minute late to school.

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