Photo by Facebook/Justin Puckett
After an elementary-school substitute teacher reprimanded a mother and father (a doctor) for packing their daughter a lunch with chocolate and marshmallows, the school has reportedly offered an apology for overstepping its boundaries.
“Dr. and Mrs. Puckett,
The cafeteria reported to me that Alia’s lunch today included 4 chocolate bars, a bag of marshmallows, Ritz crackers and a pickle. Please see that she packs a proper lunch tomorrow.”
The letter also had a space titled “Parent signature requested” on which Puckett wrote “Request denied.”
Photo: Facebook/Justin Puckett
On Tuesday, Puckett uploaded a photo of the note to Facebook with the caption: “Big brother……….At least get your facts straight before intruding. I was aware of her lunch contents. Four pieces of ham, low fat string cheese, pickles, 4 marshmallows, and a small piece of dark chocolate (she did have 2 extra pieces, one for her brother and another for a friend who we know well and her parents are ok with this). There were no crackers. Sure, I’d liked her to pack a few more veggies and maybe a piece of fruit, but we compromise on pickles occasionally. How would you respond to this note?”
Yahoo Parenting could not reach Puckett, the medical director of the Complete Family Medicine clinic in Kirksville, Missouri, for comment. But he told Australian news station ABC3 that not only did the letter’s judgmental tone imply that he and his wife Kylene’s parenting skills weren’t up to par, it was inaccurate. “Unfortunately, the letter didn’t have what she had correctly. She had four pieces of ham, a whole protein meat, she also had some pickles, which we admittedly cheat on pickles every once and awhile as a vegetable, because some fights just aren’t worth having,” he said, adding, “She also had four marshmallows in a Ziploc bag and then she had three very small pieces of chocolate, of which she ate one for lunch and then she also gave her brother and another friend one at an after school program.”
School principal Tricia Reger soon contacted Puckett and apologized. And the Kirksville Schools superintendent, Damon Kizzire, released a statement that read: “We have as educators been directed to provide healthy and nutritious foods for so long that we had an individual take it upon themselves to send a note home to parents. This will not happen again and I am sorry for any inconvenience.”
Puckett accepted the school’s apology but added, “I’m responsible for them and for the choices that they make and do whether it’s at school or not. I have the ultimate responsibility to raise my children and I take that role very, very seriously and so maybe I took it bit more personally that there was some offense that maybe I wasn’t doing a good job in that duty, something that is my number one job.”
While studies have shown that children eat healthier when lunch is provided by their schools, not their parents, Puckett’s story is an example of the increasingly blurry line between school and home. In October 2013, an 11-year-old girl from Naples, Florida brought home a so-called “fat letter” from the Department of Health stating that her BMI of 22 was too high for her 5-foot-3 frame. Her mother told Today.com that the letter wrongly labeled her daughter overweight.