An Ohio elementary school was under fire last week for a policy they announced online regarding an upcoming “Ice Cream Friday” event. The Donovan Elementary School in Lebanon, Ohio posted that they would be having an event on Friday with ice cream available to students. However, they wrote of several limitations and restrictions as to who could purchase the ice cream. They wrote that students who did not have any money in their school lunch account would not be able to purchase any ice cream, nor could students with a negative balance in their account. The school said that even if these students were to bring in cash to pay for the ice cream on the day of the event, they would not be allowed to buy the ice cream.
The school further dug itself into a hole when it continued saying one student could not purchase ice cream for another student either.
This policy immediately enraged many parents and community members. Soon enough, the post had 13,000 comments, 11,000 reactions, and over 5,400 shares. These were collected in just one day. Most comments and reactions were negative. One reply called out the school stating “I hope you realize how disgusting this is and stop punishing students over something they cannot control. I’m repulsed. Do better.”
In response to all the negative reactions from parents and community members, the school released a statement apologizing for lacking empathy in its post. Donovan Elementary acknowledged the fact that the wording of the policy made it seem as though it was discriminatory toward students with a zero to a negative balance. It confirmed students can still receive a free lunch with the lunch assistance program, but they will not be eligible to purchase a la carte items, which is what the ice cream is considered, without money in the student’s account. The school’s statement essentially apologized for the wording of the post and apologized for the way it made people feel but did not take back any of the requirements for a student to get ice cream.
Many people were still angered by the explanation and apology provided by the school. One community member, the owner of a local restaurant, donated the amount of lunch debt held at schools in the city. She posted her own post about the matter, saying her kids used to be in that position of having a negative balance and she was not able to do anything about it. She said now she is able to do something, so she wants to spread the wealth to help families in the area.