STAUNTON, Ill. - A parent says a decision by the Staunton Community Unit School District #6 is causing his children to be teased and bullied. It all started with an overdrawn cafeteria account and a cheese sandwich.
When a student's account falls into the red the school district has the right to deny the student a regular lunch and instead serve a cheese sandwich with a vegetable or fruit. It's been a policy at Staunton CUSD #6 since 2010.
That's exactly what happened to Chris Cozart's step children on Wednesday. But Cozart says the way it went down is despicable.
"They got into the school lunch line, got a tray of food went down to the end where they check out with the cashier. And when they got down there the kids say they disposed of the food and were then informed 'Tell your mom she needs to pay her bill,'" said Cozart.
On March 7 Cozart got a letter from the school warning his family's cafeteria account was more than $60 in the red and starting March 18 his step-children will be fed cheese sandwiches until the debt is paid. Cozart says his family lives on a single income and sometimes has to make tough choices.
"Do we have electricity this month or do we pay the food budget for the school?" asked Cozart.
Cozart says his family has fallen further behind in the past and the school never treated his children this way.
"They were mortified. Our youngest one, when he sat down to eat one of the other students was teasing him about it," he said.
Cozart met with district Superintendent Dr. Kyle Hlafka on Thursday and says he paid the past due amount. But he won't be satisfied until the district figures out a way to handle this type of situation without embarrassing children.
"It's the adults that are doing it, not the other children," said Cozart.
Dr. Hlafka told NewsChannel 5 he seriously doubts a cashier threw away lunches and then reprimanded the students. He said in a statement parents are given ample time to make arrangements before kids are given the cheese sandwich lunches.
You can read the school's full statement below.