Outrage of the Week: Girl Gets Week Detention for A Piece of Candy!

Dear Readers — If you ever wondered, “Gee, what would be a really good example of over-reaction?” Or, “Hmm. I wonder just HOW stupid those Zero Tolerance laws are allowing administrators to be?” Or, if you are in third grade, “What’s the easiest way for me to get out of school for a week?” Here is the story for you:

A third grade girl, eating her lunch in the cafeteria, was given a Jolly Rancher (yum!) by her friend. She didn’t even get to pop it in her mouth (choking hazard!) before she got BUSTED for breaking a rule: NO CANDY IN THE SCHOOL.

Now she’s got a week of detention. In this school, it’s not just the candies that suck. — Lenore

THIS JUST IN! TEXAS DEPT. OF AGRICULTURE SENDS SCHOOL A LETTER TELLING THEM, “ONE STUPID PIECE OF CANDY IS NOT WHAT WE MEANT BY OUR HEALTHY EATING GUIDELINES. DUH!” (WELL, ALL WORDS MINE. BUT YOU GET THE IDEA.)

47 Responses

  1. It wasn’t even while she was in class. It happened at the lunch table. AND this suspension wasn’t just staying after school it was being separated from the rest of the school at lunch and recess times for a week. Overreaction is a huge understatement. Thank God the Dept. of Agriculture wrote the school and told them so.

  2. Simply amazing.

    I may have to send my daughters to school with a cheese sandwich and a jolly rancher tomorrow. Perhaps with a drink that has a pointy straw ?

  3. There’s more to this story. The state handed the principal his tail for misapplying the rule.

    http://www.khou.com/news/State-responds-to-Jolly-Rancher-incident-93171189.html

    This is objectionable on 2 levels:

    1. A state law that could be interpreted to ban one kid from handing another kid a piece of candy at lunch. Despite the principal’s error of punishing the child, which was never foreseen in the law, this WAS potentially a violation within the scope of the law, only it would have been the other kid who was breaking it.

    2. A principal who thinks either that “there’s a state law” means “I have to imprison a child for five hours over five days as punishment for having a piece of candy” or that “there’s a state law” would make good cover story for such a stupid reaction.

  4. @Mae Mae — completely agree on the “Thank God” part (etc.), but that linked article reads that the state DoA wrote, “…This particular incidence of candy possession…” Urk. Candy possession? CANDY possession? Yikes.

    Don’t mess with Texas, I guess.

  5. Aaron, make sure that it has a pointy straw, and it’s SODA! LOL, since when do the schools have a right to tell our kids what to eat. My kids are very healthy eaters, and they also enjoy some treats in moderation.
    My 8-year-old was told by a teacher to “put that away!!” when he took out a small bag of Easter candy (jelly beans and M&Ms) that he had brought for a snack. Funny, because this is the same kid who will come home, pull all the fruit out of the fridge, and tell me he wants a fruit salad for snack. My biggest snack problem with my kids is keeping them from stealing all my peach yogurts.
    I get that there are some parents that are clueless when it comes to feeding their kids, but I think that the school’s intervention should end with the items on the school lunch menu being healthy. What my kid brings in his brown bag is nobody’s business by mine.

  6. I’m curious what their school lunches look nutritionally. I’d rather my kid have a jolly rancher than most of the “food” in school lunches.

  7. What is ridiculous is that BY LAW you are required to send your kid to school (or prove you’re homeschooling). And if BY LAW the school can decide what your kid eats, then BY LAW, the STATE controls your child’s nutrition. And they wonder where Libertarians come from…

  8. I am waiting to hear what discipline the principal was subjected to as a result of this idiotic decision. Nobody in his right mind could seriously think that was justified. The school is being run by a loony toon. Get him out of there before he tries fixing any other problems.

  9. I only WISH my son’s school would ban candy. I’m frustrated by the candy and junk he brings home as rewards in class, given in after care, or sold at games and other on-campus activities. Unfortunately, the no-tolerance policies come in response to the free-for-all that often exists in schools like ours. I don’t make it a big deal, because my son is pretty good about sweets (although getting worse largely because of stuff like this). I figure if I make it a big deal, it will be a BIG DEAL to him and he’ll want it.

    That said, I think the week’s detention is harsh. If it was a school policy, and was well-publicized, perhaps a warning note could have gone home gently reminding parents about the policy. I don’t find fault with the policy in theory (have not read the articles, mind you). We really and truly have too much junk in every area of our life. Rather than using this heavy-handed approach, however, I’d rather see promotion of healthier items. Perhaps having farmers come to the school, starting a school vegetable garden, etc.

  10. Re: Jolly Rancher lands Brazos ISD third-grader in detention for a week –

    The Principal of Brazos Elementary is:

    MRS. JEANNE YOUNG – Principal

    Barzos Elementary School
    9814 Kibler (P.O. Box 30)
    Orchard, TX 77464

    Whatever happened to people actually going to the state capitol and protesting outrageous legislation?

    But have you ever heard of school principals and adminstrators doing this? If you have I’d like to see the news story.

  11. When Jolly Ranchers are outlawed, only outlaws will have Jolly Ranchers.

    Seriously, schools have no business policing what kids eat in the lunchroom.

  12. There’s a saying that diplomacy is the art of telling someone “go to hell” in such a way that they look forward to the trip.

    The Dept. of Agriculture’s letter to the school is a good example of this🙂

    at least sanity prevailed.
    🙂

  13. Well, in related news:

    Today was my son’s birthday so I spent Mother’s Day night making brownie cupcakes for my son’s class snack-time. He came home from school today with a note from the teacher, which I thought was a “Thank You” note? Nope. It was a letter to reprimand me for making baked goods instead of store-bought ones with the ingredients listed. She said she’d allow it this time because there aren’t any allergies in the class and I didn’t know better. I know it’s not her rule, but seriously? I’ve been doing this since my 12-year-old was in kindergarten! Next year will be a lot of fun, I’m going to send in granola bars, or better yet, those individually wrapped prunes!!

  14. IF this kid’s lunch was, repeatedly, nothing but chips and candy, there would be a problem there, yes… but the problem would be with the parents who supplied this instead of real food (even if the kid packs her own lunch, all that junk has to come from SOMEwhere) and not with the child. What good would it do to punish the eight year old?

    IF you must enforce a “no candy at school” rule, the way to do it is to confiscate the candy and, if necessary, give the child another lunch or snack. It is NOT to give detention.

  15. dmd: I completely agree with you. Even here in Seattle, where our schools supposedly focus on healthy eating, I’m appalled by the sugary junk food the kids get in class, as part of school lunch, in their after school programs and day cares, and as part of their sports teams.

    I wish they would just ban the sweets free-for-all from the teachers, day care workers, and coaches and let the kids trade and share what they bring from home. There’d be a lot less sugar binge that way.

  16. This is the problem with making so many damn nit-picky rules. People start to forget the human element and the need for interpretation involved and they just dumbly follow the rule books. We are HUMANS!!! We can THINK!!! Let’s do it people!

    All this while jello is still served in the cafeteria – with fruit in it so that it falls in the fruit category.

  17. When my sister was in 6th grade, she was given her weekly lunch money the weekend before, and she was allowed to spend it any way she wanted so long as she ended up with a lunch every day. Yes, she made some unhealthy choices, but these led to meaningful discussions on nutrition and a lot more learning than would have occurred had she simply been handed the cafeteria meal every day. (Plus she learned about planning, budgeting, arithmetic, saving, etc., and had fun doing it.) I suppose she would be spending the rest of her life in detention if she were a kid today. (My sister was not skinny, but she was not fat either. She was able to make meaningful decisions about her health, which is worth a little leeway on the BMI, in my opinion. I note that she wasn’t slim when she was eating school lunches, either.)

    As someone else mentioned, the candy brought by the kids has never been the problem. It’s the constant barrage of sugar that comes from the school itself. My kids attend a self-proclaimed “candy-free preschool” but the soccer coach hands out candy every week, they have sugary snacks and juices every day, and last week my kid told me she was served “pop.” (Not sure if the “pop” report was a fib.) As a result, I am that much less likely to ever give my kids a treat myself (which kinda sucks). I just hope it doesn’t get too much worse as they get older, because it’s hard to ask a little kid to say no to something sweet, colorful, and usually forbidden.

  18. Haha, Bernadette! I love the comment about fruit in jello. It reminds of one of Jamie Oliver’s shows where the principal was convinced there were not enough veggies in the chicken stir-fry so she made the workers put out french fries. You should have seen Jamie’s face when he realized that french fries counted as a veggie. Very funny stuff.

  19. Seriously? I could understand an afternoon of detention for breaking a rule (albeit a silly rule), but a WEEK? I cut two days of school in 7th grade and I was only given 3 days of detention. Geez!

  20. Most times I really, really glad I don’t have any kids because I just don’t think I could be a reasonable adult if something like this happened to one of my children. Geez!

    -adrienne
    http://wearegoodkin.com

  21. I wonder if this “ban” extends to the crap they make kids hawk for fundraisers and such. Not only is it candy, but generally, it’s really crappy candy, worse than a Walgreens box of chocolates and three times as expensive.

    Whatever happened to just telling the kid to put it away? I think though, that this article highlights the problem of schools being afraid of losing funding for even the littlest things.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again…. we are going to raise a generation of sugar/junk food obsessed kids. Kind of want to send those administrators a copy of Mindless Eating.

  22. Principals with no judgment — like this one — are why schools enact zero tolerance policies. They can’t be trusted to think, so they are given rules to blindly apply, regardless how ludicrous the consequences.

  23. […] We told you crackdowns by the School Food Police were on the way. [KHOU via Obscure Store, Free-Range Kids] […]

  24. That school is just nuts. Like so many here, I get frustrated with teachers handing out candy for a reward, although I get it also. Cheap, small, portable, kids love it and will compete for it.

    But detention is too much. If kids aren’t bringing appropriate lunches to school (and a single piece of candy does not mean it’s inappropriate, look at the rest), send a note to the parents. Even if they aren’t making the lunches, they’re in charge of the foods that are available to bring.

  25. I’m a Texas Teacher. The law says that STAFF cannot give students food with minimal nutritional value. I keep hurricane supplies that I can give students who are hungry (Close to pay day many of my kids give up meals so younger kids can eat at home). Those are allowed. (Breakfast bars stuff like that. If I have extra yogurt, cheese, fruit, I will offer it to a hungry student.

    The law was meant to address the poor teaching practice of constantly bribing kids with junk food. It also requires a minimal number of PE/Recess minutes every week. This lead us to getting 30 minutes of recess a day and 2 45 minute sessions of PE. To get more we would have to cancel Art, Music, and Library – which kids always need.

    We specifically can NOT take away food a parent sends to school. When students bring all junk (Candy, soda, chips, ding dongs), I do call the parents. Every time the parent expressed surprise because the student was supposed to be packing you know a sandwich, or was given money to buy lunch at school and instead bought it at the corner store.

  26. You’d think the principal would save a week of detention for something, I dunno, serious. I guess that’s when they beat the children. What a complete and utter moron. It seems like these things happen a lot in Texas. I think I’d have to homeschool were I ever forced by circumstance to live in that crap-hole of a state.

  27. I think we should all email the principal and tell her what an idiot she is.

    jyoung@brazosisd.net

    julie

  28. Are you kidding me?!?!?!?!?! A Jolly Rancher?!?!?!?!?! I remember the days when someone got detention for several tardy for classes, drugs use, hazing, fighting, etc. What in gods name is wrong with this school district, this policy, and the people who are enforcing the stupid policy.

  29. Ha! We get told off for sending bought food for birthday treats – home made only!

    viv in nz

  30. Doesn’t making something forbidden make it more attractive? We should be teaching moderation. It’s not a “treat” if you have it every day.

  31. About 20years ago I was a wee one in school. No older than 6 I believe. From what I can recall my lunches were fairly healthy. One day a family crisis happened (relative died? Business caught on fire? I do not even recall). Anyhow, my dad sent me to school with money for lunch (I ordered a curried egg sandwich and salad) and leftovers from a child’s birthday I had attended that weekend for recess.

    So, come recess I am about to happily start munching on a piece of cake and some lollies. Now, to keep this in perspective, my parents were “hippies” who grew and made their own food, so this was not a regular occurrence! Anyway, my food is confiscated, and the teacher provide an orange for me to eat instead.

    Of course, the fact I am HIGHLY allergic to oranges escapes this teachers attention. Luckily I have enough sense to know I cannot eat this, and throw it in the bin.

    And that, is why teachers should not mess with a child’s food. If there is a regular issue with a child’s diet than it should be taken further. However, this teacher was from the “Big Kids” area and didn’t know me from a bar of soap.

    Oh, and just for fun…
    In Australia there is a push by many schools to make fruit-eating compulsory during school time. Great plan – yes?
    No. Many teachers are refusing to accept some children are allergic to fruit, or suffer some sort of other reaction to fruits. Fructose malabsorption comes to mind.
    Most teachers do a great job. But the fact is they are not medically trained to ascertain a healthy diet!

  32. baby-paramedic, you bring up a good point. There are so many issues involving food that there’s no way teachers could monitor diets effectively. There’s the wide range of food allergies and intolerances; religious diets; veganism and vegetarianism; medically necessary diets; and simple food preferences. It’s crazy to think that a teacher or administrator could ever be qualified to monitor and enforce the diets of so many children.

  33. Only in Texas. I’ve lived here for a quarter-century and this place still baffles me. The classic was the guy on Death Row who the appeals court decided got a fair trial even though his lawyer slept through the entire trial, and they executed him.

  34. @SKL: I completely agree that it sucks to have to be the bad guy about sugar because the kids get so dosed on it when they are away from home. I am by no means a sugar nazi, but I do try to adhere to the recommendation that no more than 10% of their daily calories come from added sugar. (That’s not 10% calories from snack-food, but 10% calories from the sugar in the snack-food.)

    Between the sugar cereals and desserts in the school cafeteria, the regular candy and cookie hand-outs in class, the sugar cereals and graham crackers and sweet yogurt at the day care, the high-fructose corn-syrup sports drinks at soccer, and the weekly candy dosing from the therapist, the kids are *way* over the 10% limit daily without a drop of sugar coming from me.

    And all of this while we’ve become societally downright neurotic about fat, even though growing kids need healthy fats (like those found in meat, fish, eggs, dairy, and unhydrogenated veggie oils) to build new cells and brain matter.

  35. New Study on Zero Tolerance

    Zero Tolerance Ineffective in Schools, Study Finds

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/05/100510132157.htm

    “McNeal and Christopher Dunbar Jr., associate professor of educational administration, interviewed and collected data from above-average students at 15 urban high schools in the Midwest. While much has been written about students punished under zero tolerance, this study is one of the first to bring in the voices of well-behaved students, the researchers said.

    Zero tolerance is a result of a 1994 federal law that requires all states receiving federal money to require school districts to expel for at least one year any student found to have brought a weapon to school. School districts across the nation installed zero-tolerance policies that sometimes went further — expelling students for cursing, defiant behavior and bringing over-the-counter medications, for examples.”

  36. Holy crap! What I don’t get is, what is the difference between a parent giving candy to a child to take to school, and the child sharing (which is positive thing taught to kids) his/her candy to another kid. Either way, the candy is still being CONSUMED. And is still not a “minimal nutrition” food? Which is what the ban is for? Why didn’t the other kid get detention for bringing it to school in the first place? A ban is a ban is it not. You can’t punish one child and not the other. That’s such a dumb ass rule.

    From the sounds of it, the school just wants to keep getting funding. Mo money, mo money, mo money. I’m finding children’s childhoods are slowly being taken away from them, by the very people who are suppose to encourage and educate them. Oh wait, these are the same adults who are paranoid, greedy, and power hungry.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all about healthy eating, and yes the amount of junk food consumption should be regulated. But to punish a child for a PIECE of candy shared by another? Ridiculous. What’s next, what you wear to school, your haircut? Guess everything is bigger in Texas, including a-holes.

  37. By the way…when did teachers start giving candy to kids as a reward? I never got candy unless it was from Treak or Treating. I got ripped off. All I ever got was gold star stickers. But then again sometimes ignorance is bliss when your a kid. A shiny rock put a smile on our faces back then. lol

  38. Let’s compare. This young lady was detained for a week for possession of a single Jolly Rancher candy, correct?

    Let’s peruse the April menu from the school, which includes breakfast and lunch selections:

    Breakfast (each of these is a stand-alone entree, and each one is served on a different day): POP TARTS, Breakfast Pizza, biscuits/sausage (this is Texas, that involves gravy), pancake wrap, blueberry muffins, breakfast taco, breakfast burrito, grilled cheese. (yes, grilled cheese). On three occasion cereal appears, paired with either toast or a muffin.

    Lunch Entree selections. Again, these are offered on different days: Corn dog, chicken nuggets, fish nuggets, steak fingers, CORN CHIP PIE, hot dog, cheese pizza, sausage pizza, chicken pot pie, salisbury steak.

    Five of their side dishes included gravy or cheese sauce, and these were served 9 times during the month.

    To the school’s credit, either “tossed salad” or “salad” were offered 5 times, some sort of hot vegetable (corn, green beans, peas, etc) were offered 9 times. And fruit appeared on the menu 21 times.

    Fruit notwithstanding, I look at these breakfast and lunch offerings and think that little Leighann was MUCH better off with a single Jolly Rancher!

    Pop Tarts for breakfast, indeed. How on EARTH does the school justify a Pop Tart as anything BUT “minimal nutrition” (the state guideline that they used against the young lady banned “minimal nutrition” foods.)

    Hypocrites.

    Here is the link for the school’s April lunch menu:

    http://www.brazosisd.net/BES%20Lunch/Elem%20%20Menu%20April%2010.pdf

  39. Okay, so pop tarts and pigs in a blanket are okay but Jolly Ranchers are banned? At least there is no cholesterol in a Jolly Rancher.

    Here is a good link to an article on unhealthy school lunches:
    http://www.pcrm.org/health/reports/worst_school_lunches.html

    I wrote a novel and my main character was given detention when a teacher found cigarrettes in her locker. I thought I was going overboard with the plot, but apparently not. Seems that a jolly rancher is just as bad (maybe worse) as cigarrettes or drugs. Crazy.

  40. @Eric – the school wasn’t following the law. It isn’t hard to understand. No giving of candy as reward by STAFF. 2 parties a year to be held after lunch. Staff NEVER takes away food brought by students and eaten in the lunch room (We can make them spit out candy/gum they are sneaking in class) If a child brings junk for lunch I check that the parents are aware.

    Candy as a reward. About 3-5 fad classroom management systems ago the thing was rewards. Students don’t get enough praise from their over worked neglectful parents so we have to heap praise on them and rewards. UGGGG you could tell when you got a group of kids from a teacher who bought in on that crap. From 1st day of school – Come in and sit down was met with “Whatcha gonna give me if I do” Honestly I wanted to go stuff buckets of candy down the previous years teacher’s throat.

    @laura Sorry to burst your bubble that salad comes in a the same small square container as the Jello squares. It is no more that 2 oz of salad.

    BTW – the US Congress is supposed to take up the funding of the school lunch program and improving the dismal nutrition in the program. Please write with suggestions because the food they serve is sometimes the only food my “kids” (students) get all day and it is awful. The meat used in the program is the stuff McDonalds rejects.

  41. @Laura,

    Now, I have a hideously unhealthy diet. I happen to LIKE fatty foods and have been blessed with a fast metabolism that doesn’t show it (give me anything cooked in olive oil and Ill eat it!)
    and… I was gagging at some of the things on that menu.

    HOW is that a healthy balanced menu?!?!

  42. Ddi anyone else read the whole letter from the State Department? I don’t see where it was a condemnation of what the school did, just a CYA of ‘we didn’t tell them to do that” comment. The letter states that the schools are allowed to set their own policies. Am I missing something?

    I agree that the school went way overboard. In my local elementary school a kid was disciplined for sharing some cheez doodles. It’s becoming very popular to push their own “healthy” agendas. We weren’t allowed to bake anything for the class, it had to have a nutrition label on it. I even asked our school nurse, “So you’d rather they have the additives and preservatives?” All I got was a blank stare and then the rules restated. Sigh.

    Parents need to get involved. Go to all the PTA meetings and the school board meetings. Let them know that this is unacceptable.

  43. I don’t always agree with everything you post, but WOW. This is just nuts. In my kids’ school, the TEACHERS hand out Jolly Ranchers. I’m a big believer in moderation and common sense.

  44. Just wow. I pity the kids at that school, and I am seriously tempted to put a bag of Jolly Ranchers in my shopping cart today and send them to the principal in the hope that it may “sweeten her up” a bit.

    Sadly, this kind of administrative insanity is not uncommon, even in other states. My daughter once lost both recesses because I failed to sign a test she’d brought home the night before (which, btw, was not marked with any due date). The same teacher once took away my son’s recess for A WEEK because I forgot to sign his homework planner once too often. I honestly don’t understand why some people become teachers when they give every evidence of disliking children.

  45. Isn’t there some teacher who’s doing a supersize experiment with school lunches?

  46. “The Agriculture Department also says that the nutrition policy is intended to improve the health of Texas youth.”

    This is false. The purpose of this program is to assert the state’s control over individual sovereignty and parental rights, asserting a false premise that the government has any right whatsoever to be dictating anything of this nature to parents.

    A follow up letter explaining in greater detail the criteria over which the state can control what people eat is NOT a victory for the people, it is a victory for the unchecked power of the state.

  47. healthy eating should be our top priority since there are many junk foods and foods with no nutritional value these days :;:

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