Bus Driver Fired For Expressing Concern Over Child Going Without School Lunches

brettstantonJohnny Cook is not just a Georgia bus driver but a father. It was perhaps the later status that led Cook to voice a concern on Facebook over children who were going hungry at Haralson County Schools. He posted a comment on Facebook after learning that a sixth-grade student was denied lunch because he was 40 cents short to buy lunch. Cook wrote on Facebook “This child is already on reduced lunch and we can’t let him eat. Are you kidding me? … The next time we can’t feed a kid for forty cent, please call me. We will scrape up the money.” That was posted on May 21. On May 23 he was fired by Superintendent Brett Stanton (left).

Superintendent Brett Stanton insists that Cook had to go because he violated the school’s social media policy that warns staff members “who post or contribute any comment or content on social networking sites that causes a substantial disruption” in the school are subject to termination. Stanton considers voicing concern over a child going hungry is a “substantial disruption” of his school system.

Stanton also insists that he has looked at surveillance videotapes and does not believe the child ever went through the line. The child however wrote a letter insisting that it did happen: “I sat at a table with no lunch while other children ate lunch. … No one offered to pay for my lunch and no one offered me a sandwich or a banana or apple.” Other parents say it is Stanton and the school which is lying and that they have seen this occurred with other children.

In the end, the veracity of the child is not important. It is the policy, and its interpretation, that needs to be addressed. I fail to see why public employees cannot voice objections of the treatment of children without being fired for causing a “substantial disruption.” If a single Facebook posting meets that definition, I cannot imagine what would not do so. It is all part of this growing authoritarian environment in our schools from zero tolerance rules to monitoring the private conduct of teachers.

Source: CBS

43 thoughts on “Bus Driver Fired For Expressing Concern Over Child Going Without School Lunches”

  1. Wonder when the District added this to their web page?: The District policy allows a student to charge up to 3 meals before a parent is contacted. The student will be provided with an alternative meal consisting of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich or a cheese sandwich and milk. Any student informing an adult at the school that he/she is hungry will not be turned away from eating a meal. If you ever experience a situation where a child reports he/she was turned away from eating a meal at one of our schools, please contact the principal immediately in order to address the concern in an appropriate manner.

  2. I looked up Brett Stanton on the internet. His own little self serving bio says that he was a football jock in undergrad majoring in football and P.E. and got one of those post grad degrees in administration. Then he was a high school football coach. I guess the kids on the squad ate good.

    He is a icon to the old adage: Those who can, Do. Those who cant, teach. Those who cant teach, teach teachers or become principals.

    So he was not good enough to be a professional football player and too dumb to teach math and science so he worked his way up from football coach to Superintendent.

    I am going to go see if he has any criminal record.

  3. I think that the bus driver is probably competent and has the correct human instincts to perform the job of Superintendent of Schools. Fire the schmuck who fired bus driver and give the job to bus driver. Occupy the Superintendent’s Office tomorrow. Ascertain if the teachers and Superintendent eat for free at the school lunch counter.

  4. Gene, I’m going to get some bananas next time I go to the grocery, with luck I’ll have some rum left! 🙂

  5. Rob Benjamin, nomenklatura is good. I like that too. I’m not used to working with appointees or patronage bureaucrats, mine actually got there with some level of meritocracy involved and burrowed in or got trapped or actually were doing what the like and did well. I think either word would be appropriate depending on which kind, patronage and incompetent or competitive and incompetent, one was refering too. Neither would be appropriate for most bureaucrats, I knew a bunch of them. LOL, I almost became one.

  6. Riesling – “All this trouble because of a lack of 40 cents.”

    For the want of 40 cents, a lunch was lost.
    For the want of a lunch, a lesson was lost.
    For the want of a lesson, an education was lost.
    For the want of an education, an opportunity was lost.
    For the want of an opportunity, a job was lost.
    For the want of a job, a career was lost.
    For the want of a career, a life was lost.

    And all for the want of 40 cents.


  7. The minds of men keep getting smaller and pettier and nastier every day. I thought it was supposed to be going in the opposite direction but here’s another decayed bureaucratic body to prove me wrong!

  8. LK,

    OT (again): I spoke with my mom again today and she said unless sealed from air, you’ll probably never totally stop the banana sweats (but that she’d be interested in hearing how the foster experiment works out). However, if you wanted to slow the ripening process to keep them fresher longer (and somewhat reduce their giving up water) she suggested putting fresh lemon juice on the to coat and drying them off before adding (dilute the juice if you use concentrate from a bottle) or sprinkling the bananas with powdered fruit pectin and let them sit briefly before adding (although she warned dependent on the brand and/or quantity, that may affect the banana flavor).

  9. They don’t shame easy, those school administrators. But with the wave of public humiliation that should be headed their way right now, perhaps they’ll figure out how to hang-dog it a little bit; I sure hope so.

  10. With regard to apparatchiki, another Soviet-era word that can apply to many small-town governments is nomenklatura – a culture of managers who owe their positions to patronage and ideological reliability rather than credentials.

    Other than its abysmal rankings, I don’t know anything about this particular small Southern place. However, many such communities are effectively run as one-party states. They get little attention from outside, and the controlling culture picks its nomenklatura based on reliable loyalty to the ideology of low taxes, and a Dickensian vision of what those who have owe to those who have not.

    Also, nationwide, school districts have among the lowest levels of transparency of any arm of government. Board elections usually attract the most agenda-driven candidates, and bring out only a tiny percentage of voters. Few people attend school board meetings, unless some very incendiary issue brings them out. District administrators are often careerists and willing tools of the most crackbrained members of the boards.

    Again, knowing only how this issue has surfaced, the low level of performance of the District, and its position in the semi-rural South, I suspect that Brett Stanton is a member in good standing of Haralson County’s nomenklatura.

  11. Dan and Mike, well said..

    The backbone of our government is the dedicated honest hard working civil servant.
    I fell into the meanthink, or foxthink, of complete generalization of a good word and used it for the most negative of connotations.

  12. This administrator should be packing his bags and looking for a new job. I would also add that the bus driver should not only be given his job back, but he should also receive a medal for speaking out of the less fortunate among us.

  13. I suppose common decency is too much to ask. No, instead the bus driver has to be fired, and then it has to be ascertained that the student lied so that the superintendent can save face. What twisted times we live in.

  14. “Bureaucrat” doesn’t have the tinge of deep-seated disrespect that is required. There are bureaucrats and there are good old-fashioned apparatchiki. Minister Superintendent Brett Stanton is an apparatchik of the first water.

    Apparatchik /ˌɑːpəˈrɑːtʃɪk/ (plural apparatchiki or apparatchiks; Russian: аппара́тчик is a Russian colloquial term for a full-time, professional functionary of the Communist Party or government, i.e. an agent of the governmental or party “apparat” (apparatus) that held any position of bureaucratic or political responsibility, with the exception of the higher ranks of management. James Billington describes one as “a man not of grand plans, but of a hundred carefully executed details.”[1] It is often considered a derogatory term, with negative connotations in terms of the quality, competence, and attitude of a person thus described.


    1. LK,

      “Apparatchik” is perfect but I knew far too many communists as a young man to ever want to use their terminology, appropriate as it is. 🙂

  15. “The fish rots from the head.” (Rob Benjamin)


    BTW … good luck in seeking future employment, Brett Stanton … your abilities are now well publicized across the internet

  16. According to data published on USA.gov, (http://www.usa.com/school-district-1302670.htm) the Haralson County School District is pretty close to the bottom of Georgia’s barrel. The High School ranks in the bottom 27% ((127 out of 175), and the Elementary/Middle School is in the bottom 12% (154 out of 175).

    People like Johnny Cook who speak truth to power aren’t the problem in Haralson County’s schools. The fish rots from the head.

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