School district official: Staff who served student lunch from trash did so out of ‘panic’

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PLEASANT GROVE, Utah – School administrators apologized to a mother in a meeting Thursday after her daughter was served pizza from a trash can earlier this week.

Sierra Prince is an eighth grade student with special needs who attends Pleasant Grove Junior High School, and she said she feels too humiliated to return to school after she was served a piece of pizza at lunch that came from a trash can.

School district officials spoke about the staff’s decision to give Sierra the pizza, saying that confusion over the girl’s dietary needs played a role. Sierra has diabetes and had been given insulin prior to the meal in question, and the lunch staff thought the dose she had been given meant pizza was the only option, officials said.

Alpine School District Spokeswoman Kimberly Bird said the school-appointed aide who helps Sierra, who has learning disabilities, had a few days of training but had not yet been able to meet with Sierra’s mother for training specific to Sierra’s needs.

"We rely heavily on the training of the parent with us, because it's the parent who knows their child the best, and the parent is visiting with that doctor and knows specific information about that child's needs,” she said.

Officials said a scheduling conflict prevented Nicole Cordova, Sierra’s mother, from meeting the aide to go over those needs. Bird said the aide was working with Sierra for the first time on Wednesday and made a decision out of panic.

"It was a poor decision made in, what they thought was going to be in the best interest of the child, in panic, that insulin shock, you know, would take place because they didn't have that pizza,” Bird said.

Cordova said she thinks the school should have been better prepared.

"I think there is a big enough epidemic of Type 1 diabetes that the school should be prepared, they should be set up to handle special needs children,” she said. “They should already have [carbohydrate] counts on their menus, just like McDonald's has to provide them, why doesn't the school have to provide it?"

Alpine School District officials said they will consider those suggestions, but they said overall they feel the program of school-appointed aides works well. Officials said Sierra will be working with a new aide when she returns to school, and they said that aide will have had additional training.

"We did discuss the need for an early training for diabetic needs with the 504 training,” Bird said. “We do offer that training during the school year, but we don't offer it prior to school beginning, and so that is a change that the district will be looking at."

Sierra’s mother said Sierra plans to return to school Monday, but she said they are worried about potential bullying regarding the incident.

20 comments

  • catrina

    That school is not equipped to take care of that child my child’s school has the carb counts of everything he eats and does not give him his insulin until after he has eaten just In case he does not eat all if his food!!

  • Bri-Guy

    Worried about being bullied? Embarrassed? Nobody would have known a thing had this over-reacting mother not called every news station to report it! This is a simple problem with a simple solution, and did not need to include the news stations at all. You made a fuss, now you get the consequences.

  • marla

    Are you guys kidding me?!? Do you know how many children with special needs get bullied and picked on in school by both, student and staff? No way, I dont care how much of a panic you were in, never degrade a child by pulling food out the trash and expect them to eat it! You cant tell me that they dont have paper work before hand to know what to expect on all children who take med, insulin, or even a special diet. That mother had every right to make a big deal about it. If that was my son, I sure in the hell will stand right up for him no matter what it took. This is part of the reason kids and teenagers think they have no other way around their situation and they want to commit suicide because they are scared to speak up. I know with 100% you all would make a big deal about it too if it were your child.

  • Sorry Not Sorry

    Why the hell is a diabetic kid allowed to eat pizza in the first place? If you have “special needs” you should be eating a healthy diet with balanced nutrients. The child “insisted” she gets a slice of pizza, more like she through a fit because she’s been spoiled rotten at home with all the pizza she wants. The pizza was still in the box on top of the trash. Good lord, this family is begging for attention.

  • Crazy People

    The reason she was late for lunch is the Mom was going to show up to administer the insulin and then never showed up. The student only would eat pizza which was in a box in the trash. There were other more healthy options available (a very healthy turkey wrap) but the student would only accept the pizza. The lunch manager didn’t want to give her the pizza, but the student only wanted the pizza. They are not showing how the mother’s lack of responsibility by not being there when she said she was going to be there and how that really caused this. It is a classic example of passing the blame, wanting your 15 minutes of fame, and wanting some sort of payout. Bri-Guy is right, she is only humiliated because the mother called the news… otherwise NO ONE would even have known!

    • rae

      Yes, a turkey wrap is a more healthy choice. BUT, what 8th grader is going to want a turkey wrap over pizza?!
      PLUS – she had already given hersf insulin based on the carbs in the pizza, perhaps the wrap didn’t have the right carb content!
      The side should’ve known exactly what to do!! My son is in 9th grade and has had type 1 diabetes since he was 9 months of age. I would be furious if anyone fed my child from the trash!!

  • Sandey Bush

    I find fault with both parties involved . First and for most the mother should have made he daughters health issues a top priority ,as in making sure the school was well informed of how to take care of her daughters special diet needs . She could have packed a lunch until she was able to train someone on her daughters dietary needs . The school aide did a big NO NO !!! You never ever feed a child out of the trash!!!! If the school was that concerned they could have called 911 for emergency assistance or they could have called the mother and tell her that her daughter insisted that she had to have the pizza and would not eat anything else so the mother could have brought her something to eat . Ok so the school had no more pizza left , really ? I am sure they had some in the freezer and could have cooked her a nice ,clean fresh piece !!!!! Hopefully the mother will now make it her TOP PRIORITY to make sure that the people taking care of her children will be well trained in their needs .

  • rae

    Just for the record… A TYPE1 Diabetic, can eat anything they want to, so long as they bolus (give insulin), for the total amount of carbohydrates they eat.
    Yes, a healthy diet is better – but a healthy diet is better for EVERYONE!
    And I k ow this because my 9th grade son has had type 1 diabetes since he was 9 months old!!
    EDUCATE YOURSELVES ON THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TYPE 1 AND TYPE 2 DIABETES PEOLE!! It’s not hard to Google!!

  • Eja

    This article fails to mention one detail: the pizza was in a box, untouched, on the top of the trash can, according to the local reports. It was not dug out of a pile of sludge, so to speak, and given to the child. Maybe if the mom had made time to attend the meeting regarding her daughter’s needs, this wouldn’t have happened. How are cafeteria workers supposed to know what to do? It is out of their area of expertise. They were just trying to help this girl, and the mother should be grateful.

    • rae

      Whether it was at the top or the bottom, doesn’t change the fact that it was in the GARBAGE!!
      And you’re right about the cafeteria staff not knowing what to do, but the girls aide should’ve known, as it’s her job to know!! And she should’ve known enough to think of calling the mother if she had any queries!
      Heads would roll if this was my boy!!

      • smh

        Do you not read? It says a scheduling conflict prevented the mother from meeting with the aide for training. Both sides are wrong.

  • smh

    No one is to blame but the parent. If it was my kid I’d make sure the school understands my child’s diet, or at least provide a home lunch. This mother sounds irresponsible and just wants attention. Its a school cafeteria for crying out loud, not a gourmet restaurant. You are responsible for your child’s diet, not anyone else. Especially if they are a special needs. Please give the mother some parent counseling.

  • rae

    SMH
    That child’s aide should never have been assigned to her if she didn’t know what she was doing!
    Also, because the aide had no idea what she or he was doing, the first thing they should’ve done – well anyone with half a brain would’ve done – would be to call the parents or emergency contact of child, explain the situation, and ask what needs to be done. Simple Really.

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