Friday, March 13, 2015

Community defends shamed six-year-old

Nicole Garloff, mother of first-grader Hunter Cmelo, took him to Lincoln Elementary School in Grants Pass, OR, late again this month because of her poor health and the family's broken-down car. Later that morning she returned to school around lunch time. Hunter was in the cafeteria eating with his classmates. Well, not exactly WITH them. School superintendent John Higgens had a policy that any child who was tardy four times must eat alone behind a cardboard screen, segregated from his classmates. Nicole saw him crying as he nibbled lunch, and snapped this picture, which Hunter's grandmother posted on Facebook.

It was not Hunter's fault he was late, and when the school began receiving emails from all over the country demanding an end to punishment by shame, Higgens changed the policy. From now on, students who are tardy four times or more will make up work in a private space with a teacher's aide with a positive tone. But there's more.

Local radio personality Bill Meyer saw the picture and launched a campaign to get the family a better car. Rapid Repo and Collections, helped by other businesses, donated a refurbished 2001 Chrysler Town and Country minivan. Kelly's Automotive Service, who repaired the van, donated free oil changes for a year and $100 in free gas. Hunter's father, Marc Cmelo, told KPTV he was "blown away that there are still good people out there, and people who care."

Thank heaven for grandmothers with Facebook pages!

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