After-school program to resume at Washington High School

February 7, 2014

After a short suspension during an investigation into claims that an after-school program teacher forced three boys to eat a muffin out of the trash, the Washington Family Center program will return to Washington School District.

The program is set to return Monday, and will include program and staff changes, district Superintendent Roberta DiLorenzo said. DiLorenzo said she was unable to elaborate on the changes, but said parents were notified via a letter distributed earlier in the week.

The district and the Connect Inc. Washington Family Center launched the investigation in January after a parent complained that her son was forced to eat a muffin out of the trash.

Pamela Alakson said her son and two other boys were throwing a blueberry muffin around during the program in the Washington High School cafeteria on Jan. 29 when it was batted into the trash. A teacher, who was not affiliated with the district and not identified, made Alakson’s son retrieve the muffin from the trash. The teacher then divided the muffin into threes and made the boys eat it or they would get a one-week suspension, Alakson said.

Connect Inc. Washington Family Center has partnered with the district for the last 15 years to provide free after-school tutoring and activities. DiLorenzo said cameras stationed in the cafeteria captured the incident, but not the audio.

“The allegations that the teacher forced the students to eat the muffin couldn’t be determined,” she said. “(The video) showed the boys throwing things around. It showed the teacher talking with the boys. It could not be discerned from the video that the muffin came out of the trash.”

Two other teachers were present when the indicted occurred. All three were interviewed as a part of the investigation, and all three had similar stories.

“They said the boys were daring one another to eat it,” DiLorenzo said.

Connect Inc. Washington Family Center Director Kelly Goedel could not be reached for comment.

Alakson said she remains furious. She said she was not notified that the investigation was complete or that a staff change had been made. She removed her children from the after-school program immediately following the incident.

“There were no apologizes issued to the kids or myself,” she said. “My son is being made fun of. As far as I am concerned, this situation is still unresolved.”

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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