Parent: Wash High students forced to eat muffin from trash

January 29, 2014

Washington School District and the Connect Inc. Washington Family Center are investigating claims that an after-school program teacher at the high school forced three teenage boys to eat a muffin out of the trash.

Pamela Alakson, the mother of one of the boys, said her two children made her aware of the incident Friday afternoon. Alakson said her son, and two other boys, were throwing a blueberry muffin around, and that the muffin was batted into the trash. A teacher, who is not affiliated with Washington School District, made Alakson’s 14-year-old son retrieve the muffin from the trash.

“She then divided the muffin into threes and told them to eat it or they would get a one-week suspension,” she said.

Alakson said two other teachers were in the cafeteria when the incident happened.

“Instead of stopping it, one teacher was snickering and the other made the boys open their mouths to make sure they were actually eating the muffin.”

Washington School District Superintendent Roberta DiLorenzo confirmed that an incident occurred Friday afternoon, but did not confirm or deny Alakson’s version of events.

“I’ve heard the complaints and have talked with parents,” DiLorenzo said. “We are investigating. It did occur in the cafeteria and we do have cameras there.”

DiLorenzo said the district has an agreement with the Connect Inc. Washington Family Center to provide free after-school tutoring and activities.

“We’ve partnered together for the last 15 years,” DiLorenzo said.

DiLorenzo said that to her knowledge, the afterschool staff are certified teachers. She said there have been no prior or additional reports of similar incidents.

“This is an anomaly,” she said.

Officials from the district and the Connect Inc. Washington Family Center met Wednesday to get the investigation under way. DiLorenzo said school closures have complicated the investigation, which includes interviews with witnesses, the three boys and Connect Inc. Washington Family Center employees. She hopes the issue will be resolved by the end of this week, or early next week.

DiLorenzo said parents will be notified of the incident and if there is an outcome. She said she will not be able to provide specifics if disciplinary actions are taken.

Kelly Goedel, the director of Connect Inc. Washington Family Center, said her office is looking into the incident. Goedel declined additional comment.

The teachers’ names were not provided.

After her children called her at work Friday to tell her about the incident, Alakson said she called the district, the after-school program provider, the mayor, city police and the board of education.

“I’m furious,” she said. “I don’t think they should have jobs. I just can’t believe that a teacher would make a kid do that.”

In the meantime, Alakson said she has pulled her kids from the program indefinitely.

“Teachers are supposed to be role models,” she said. “They are not supposed to humiliate kids.”

Francesca Sacco joined the Observer-Reporter as a staff writer in November 2013, and covers the Washington County Courthouse and education. Prior to working with the Observer-Reporter, Francesca was a staff writer with a Gannett paper in Ohio. She graduated from Point Park University with a dual bachelor’s degree in print and broadcast journalism.

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