He did not think much of the mark on his kid’s arm the first time that he saw it. But it all changed when he found out what it was and how it got there. In fact, he started to see red as soon as he figured out what was going on! Why would the school shame his son in such a cruel manner? He decided to pull up his son’s sleeve and snapped a photo to show everyone. Whoever thought it was a good idea was going to pay for what his child had to go through.
She Did Her Research
Tara Chavez did her homework on the schools in their part of Phoenix before finally deciding on Desert Cove Elementary School. She considered everything before arriving at this decision because this was not an issue that she took lightly.
Well-Being Of A Young Boy
Among other things, she had to weigh factors such as affordability and class size. However, the deciding factor was the well-being of her son. He was a sensitive boy, so she wanted to ensure that he would be treated properly.
The School Sounded Perfect
Tara went to the school to attend several open days. She felt that Desert Cove Elementary School was going to be good for her son, so she finished the paperwork and enrolled the young boy.
She had no idea that it was going to be a decision that she would sorely regret when everything was said and done. Not once did this mom think that it would lead to a controversy! After she spoke out about her predicament, other parents decided to stand their ground as well.
Everything Was Going Well
It looked like everything was going well after one full term at Desert Cove Elementary School. Cayden had been doing well at school, which made her husband convinced that the school was a good fit for him.
The ethos of the school resonated with the parents, so they felt certain that it was the best place for their little boy. On top of that, their son adored his teachers. However, they soon found out that their little boy had been facing a big problem out there.
He Went Home Upset
After another day at school, Tara went to the school to fetch little Cayden. As soon as she saw him, she could tell that there was something very wrong. But what exactly was is? She couldn’t quite place her finger on it…
Right away, she assumed that her son was being bullied by his fellow students or maybe even a teacher. Tara really started to get worried that perhaps her son was now a victim of bullying.
She regained her composure and tried to improve his mood as much as she could, so she asked the young boy about his day. Like any other loving parent, this concerned mom was determined to get to the bottom of things.
The Mark On His Arm
Cayden only replied with a brusque “fine” and kept his eyes trained outside the car window. Gently, Tara asked the little boy if something happened at school. However, he refused to give his mother anything more than another curt answer. It was clear that he did not want to discuss whatever was bothering him at that moment.
So Tara thought it was best not to pester him further. She let him have some space but planned to talk about it more when they got home. It was then that she noticed a blue mark on his arm.
He Was Branded
She craned her neck to get a look at the thing on his arm. At a glance, she thought that it was only dirt. However, a closer inspection made it clear that this was not the case.
What Did It Read?
Tara could just tell that the reason her son was so down had something to do with this mark. But she also wanted to understand the full story. Well, they do say that a mother’s instinct is always right!
She Feared The Worst
This mother now had a lead on what happened, but she decided to let the matter rest until they reached home. After all, she had to keep her eyes on the road until they arrived at their house.
Angry As A Raging Bull
Even though she let it go, for now, she had been holding the wheel so tightly that her knuckles went white. She did because she knew that she could not show her son how angry she was. You just know that the person behind this was going to be in big trouble. You do not want to mess with Tara!
They Held A Family Meeting
As soon as they got home, Cayden tried to head straight to his room. However, Tara made sure that he would not hide without telling them the entire story. She then called her husband, brought out a chair, and asked their son to sit down.
Perhaps It Was A Bruise
Mark, her husband, lifted his son’s sleeve to look at the thing that was on his arm. They initially thought that it was a bruise, but it was only ink. Did the young boy write on his arm? However, the concerned dad knew this could not be true after seeing the words on his skin.
Written In Capital Letters
There were two words on Cayden’s son. The bold ink read “LUNCH MONEY” in thick blue letters! Why was this stamped on his arm? Who would do such a thing? Especially for such a young child.
The Lunch Lady
Cayden then told them that the lunch lady was the one who left it on his skin. It seems like she wanted to publicly shame the poor boy in front of the whole school. His parents got angrier the more they heard what their son had to say.
He Had No Choice
“I asked if he was given a choice by the lunch lady, and he said, ‘No, she just grabbed my wrist and put the stamp on,’” Tara tearfully explained when she was interviewed. It saddened her at just the thought of her son being humiliated.
Even though Cayden was still able to pay for his food, the lunch money in his account had been running low. After the angry mom checked online, she felt even more infuriated when saw that there were still 75 cents in there. Mark snapped a photo of the stamp and uploaded it on the internet.
They Humiliated The Poor Boy
“He was screaming and crying the entire time,” shared the concerned mom, “He was humiliated, didn’t even want me to take a picture of it.” Of course, the most concerning issue here was how embarrassed the little boy felt about it.
There was no doubt that it made him feel bad and did a number on his self-esteem. Usually, the school sent out a reminder through email if the lunch money account was already running low. However, did the school really mess up in this situation?
It Went Viral
It did not take long before the post made its rounds on the internet. Well, after all we are living in the digital age, after all. The story ended up getting hundreds of shares and comments.
A lot of parents decided to stand behind the family and comments poured in that said Tara’s reaction were totally justified. “Like, y’all couldn’t send a note?” one of her friends chimed in.
Comments Kept Coming
Another friend of hers responded with, “Y’all couldn’t think for two seconds about the numerous references of branding someone as a stigma?” If you ask us, she really does have a good point.
Other Kids With Similar Experiences
“What kind of twisted person holds a child’s arm & applies a big, block-lettered stamp in black ink to their little arm?!!” a different netizen added. A number of people who read the post believe that the stamp was simply “unacceptable.”
Loads Of Notifications
Another parent, not connected to the family or school responded with a very angry message, “If a kid’s parents don’t have any money to deposit to the child’s account … do they just keep stamping the child every day? Seriously.”
The School Responds
Anyway, let us hear what the school had to say about the matter. Tara got an email not long after the post attracted a lot of attention. What did the school have to say to her about the issue?
They Denied The Claims
Stacey Orest, the principal of Desert Cove Elementary School, said that the staff did not intend to humiliate the kids with “reminder stamps.” She then explained to Tara that the cafeteria staff is “supposed to ask them if they want a stamp or a reminder slip.”
However, Tara was not satisfied with the explanation at all that was provided by the school. In fact, the other parents who tuned into the story wanted to completely outlaw the “reminder” stamps. It was just not okay anymore.
The Official Statement
The Monday after that, the school district put out an official statement about the incident. Becky Kelbaugh, the Paradise Valley Unified School District spokesperson, said, “It was never the intention of Desert Cove Elementary School administration and staff to embarrass any student by using the stamp.”
It Was Not The First Time
She went on, “Students were given the choice between a letter or reminder stamp. Going forward, Desert Cove Elementary School will send a letter home notifying parents of low lunch balances.”
Phoenix New Times
Aside from this, she also informed the Phoenix New Times that the primary school is going to stop using “reminder stamps.” We are glad to hear that they will not do this anymore. However, the truth is that it was not the first and only time that such a thing happened.
It Made His Blood Boil
Jon Bivens is the father of a third-grade student who goes to Gardendale Elementary School. A very similar situation happened with his son not too long before this incident. The young boy came home with something similar on his arm. Wait until you see what happens…
This dad said that he did not think much of it at first. “I thought it was a good job stamp,” he explained his initial nonchalance. He changed his mind after seeing that it was a stamp of these words: “I need lunch money.” Jon felt surprised since he was normally notified instead.
No Justification For This
Jon, together with his wife, give their little boy packed lunches every day but let him buy treats from the cafeteria every now and then. However, there was something that truly angered him, wait until you see what it was.
It turns out that his son actually still had money left on his account by the end of the term! When he was stamped, there was still a balance of $1.38 in there. This was not acceptable!
The Ethics Of This Practice
“They herd these kids like cattle,” this furious dad said. According to him, his son was also “branded” by a school. “When you start stamping a message on a child’s body instead of calling…it’s just not okay,”
He continued to share his feelings during an interview by saying, “It’s a form of bullying and shaming the kids.” Do you agree that it is too harsh to implement a “branding” system in cafeterias? What do you think?
Desert Cove is a relatively affluent school — only 32% of the students there qualify for free or reduced-price lunches. So it’s easy to imagine that singling out students whose account balances are low could be a humiliating experience for them.
However, this is no excuse “Lunch shaming” can lead students to skip meals altogether, That in turn hurts their academic performance and makes them more likely to repeat a grade or require mental health counseling
Later on, a statement was released by Desert Cove Elementary School saying, “It was never the intention of administration and staff to embarrass any student by using the stamp” They were deeply sorry
Many Years Before
Although it was a system that had been using for many years, they said that going forward, the school would discontinue using the “stamping method” and from there on out only communicate with parents.