Whistleblowing teacher fired for exposing teacher thefts of student food?

posted at 11:36 am on July 28, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Maybe this isn’t quite stealing candy from a baby, but if it’s true, it’s as close in reality as it comes.  A teacher in Germantown, PA discovered that her fellow instructors routinely stole federally-funded lunches intended for poor students at Germantown High School.  When she complained to the principal, Samenia Mayer says she was told to mind her own business.  And when she complained to others in the community, Mayer soon found herself out of a job:

SAMENIA MAYER said that she’d always tried to do right by the students she served at Germantown High, where she recruited and trained mentors to keep incoming freshmen on the right path.

So, when she noticed that teachers there were helping themselves to federally funded lunches before their students could get to them during a summer program, she complained to the principal, who ignored her complaints, she said.

Mayer said that the problem became so bad that even when the school ordered more than 100 boxed lunches for about 80 students, up to 20 students still went hungry, an allegation that students backed up last week.

She alerted alumni, clergy and community organizers, about what was going on, but when nothing changed, she called and e-mailed staff at the school district, seeking action. She was told to raise her concerns with the school’s principal, Margaret Mullen-Bavwidinsi, who turned around and fired her, Mayer said. To add insult to injury, the day after she was fired, signs went up around the building warning teachers not to eat the students’ food.

The principal claims that Mayer also took the lunches herself, which Mayer denies.  Mullen-Bavwidinsi also claimed that Mayer took some of the lunches home for her own children.  The teacher makes a pretty compelling argument that she’d be unlikely to expose a practice in which she partook, especially with such wide dissemination.  Not only that, but Mayer also points out that feeding her children food that had been left out for hours wouldn’t be particularly smart.

The district and the principal also claimed that Mayer’s claims were “unfounded,” which seems to contradict the accusations Mullen-Bavwidinsi makes against Mayer.  Was Mayer the only teacher stealing food, then?  Several students went on the record to support Mayers’ claims, saying that their friends had gone without food because of staff poaching of the lunches.  Mayer also produced an e-mail exchange between her and the principal that seems to cast doubt on the official story:

In an e-mail to Mayer sent on July 17, Mullen-Bavwidinsi told her to leave the matter alone.

“Since you are NOT in charge of DOL incentives as part of your charge, I will respectfully ask that you NOT concern yourself with this issue,” she wrote.

When reached at her school last week, Mullen-Bavwidinsi said that teachers are not allowed to eat the lunches and that she didn’t recall sending the e-mail. She declined to comment further.

I’ll bet she declined to comment further.  That doesn’t sound like, “The problem is all in your head.”  It sounds more like, “Shut up.”  This looks like a case for an Inspector General.

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Kids throwing away food starts with parents who did not teach the kids to eat what was on their plate without complaining.

Waste occures when a federal program treats everyone the same from the mile high level without any audit or accountability. This is why local implementation is often better, because they know where the needs are and where they are not. Idealy this would be in the hands of parents who had less taxes taken away from them and not have a screw the government type attitude which really harms their neighbors. But when the money takes a long enough road trip, where it started from and where it ends up don’t see each other, nor can one change the direction at that point.

When corruption is so pervasive, I say starve the beast. Keep the money local, and if there remains a real need then handle it localy not federaly.

AnotherOpinion on July 28, 2010 at 4:32 PM

Here is the misunderstanding: those food-grubbing teachers — whose bloated bodies were already ruined — were simply protecting the students from the damages that the school lunches would inflict on their as yet relatively unharmed bodies. Michelle-O would unhesitatingly approve.

ya2daup on July 28, 2010 at 5:40 PM

I’ll bet she declined to comment further. That doesn’t sound like, “The problem is all in your head.” It sounds more like, “Shut up.”

Sounds more like “On advice of my attorney, I decline comment so as not to further incriminate my sorry a$$.”

Amendment X on July 28, 2010 at 6:26 PM

The principal claims that Mayer also took the lunches herself, which Mayer denies. Mullen-Bavwidinsi also claimed that Mayer took some of the lunches home for her own children. The teacher makes a pretty compelling argument that she’d be unlikely to expose a practice in which she partook, especially with such wide dissemination. Not only that, but Mayer also points out that feeding her children food that had been left out for hours wouldn’t be particularly smart.

The you did it too argument. That sounds familiar. /s

CWforFreedom on July 28, 2010 at 6:56 PM

Union thugs doing what union thugs do best.

As for allergies, one of my friends from high school was allergic to about 9 different food items to include peanuts, milk and eggs. He would still eat with us, but we also knew what could and couldn’t be traded in our meals. People have to learn what they can and cannot do.

cobrakai99 on July 28, 2010 at 7:06 PM

No child should be allowed to not eat something.

proconstitution on July 28, 2010 at 8:50 PM

People have to learn what they can and cannot do.

cobrakai99 on July 28, 2010 at 7:06 PM

Of course they do, and my son knows not to trade food, ever.

The mindless adherence to “conservative principles” at HA, no matter what the circumstances, astounds me (and I’m a staunch conservative, believe me). Look, no one is saying that peanut butter should be outlawed. But if you send your child to a PUBLIC SCHOOl, where many children are in attendance, you can expect to adhere to some restrictions. This is no different than in any segment of society! Drive a car, get a license. Buy a gun, get a license. Yet our schools should be restriction-free? Children–who most need our guidance and protection–should be able to do what they like, bring whatever they like, even if it threatens the LIFE of another child? Your kids sandwich–which he can eat in his home anytime he likes–is that important to you?

I’m very, very grateful that many of you are not teachers. You think you’re superior to us, but the heartlessness often displayed here leads me to believe that you lack the compassion necessary to deal with other people’s children.

Grace_is_sufficient on July 28, 2010 at 8:56 PM

Children–who most need our guidance and protection–should be able to do what they like, bring whatever they like, even if it threatens the LIFE of another child? Your kids sandwich–which he can eat in his home anytime he likes–is that important to you?

Perhaps it’s the idea that YOU/your child should be responsible for his health and not every other child or teacher in his school that is offensive to you. It’s not that people’s choice of food is more important to them than your son’s life, it’s that it’s not THEIR problem. They should not have their choices limited because one child has a severe allergy.

While I sympathize with your problem, we all have problems of our own and with our children. I don’t ask you to refrain from a food choice because it might hurt me or my child, I keep myself or my child away from a situation that is fatal to them. It’s MY problem not the problem of everyone else.

2L8 on July 29, 2010 at 10:21 AM

Comment pages: 1 2