TAZEWELL COUNTY, VA (WJHL) – Parents who are still outraged over several students not getting lunch last week packed a Tazewell County school board meeting Monday night.
It was an incident described as a miscommunication by the Richlands High School Principal.
Last week, Principal Kim Ringstaff, told us the school has thousands of dollars in high, unpaid lunch bills, and that the students affected by this were told to pack a lunch or apply for free and reduced lunch.
After parents heard some students trays were taken away and they went without food that day, a petition started.
Monday night we spoke to several parents and family members of students at Richlands High School who called the situation heartbreaking, even devastating.
Frances Johnson said she couldn’t even imagine the embarrassment the students felt when they found out they couldn’t eat the lunch they thought they were going to get that day.
Johnson is the parent who started the on-line petition to get the principal fired.
She told the board Monday night more than 6,000 people signed the petition and asked them to act.
“I did start a petition and I will present you with that, its for the immediate resignation of the high school principal,” Johnson said.
Other parents demanded action.
“Theres parents here that’s getting laid off the coal industry is going down the kids don’t understand things like this no kids deserves to go without food,” Savannah Looney said.
“Its probably best that she probably step down and allow somebody else to come in, I think the community has a lot of untrust in her now,” Connie Patrick said.
There were also concerned citizens who told the board they have lost sleep over this incident and want changed to be made.
Judy Horne says she has grandchildren in the Tazwell County School System and after hearing what happened last week at Richlands she wanted to take action.
Just over the weekend Horne told us she started a non-profit called “Hungry No More.”
She said they have raised around $2,000 since she started this effort on Friday morning.
The money raised will go to children in schools at Raven, Richlands, and Cedar Bluff who don’t have any money for lunch.
“Everything I kept hearing was humiliation from the students that went through the experience and no kid should have to experience that, I don’t care if their parents owed money, no kid should have to experience that,” Horne said.
There was another side to this story told at the meeting.
One parent spoke in support of the principal.
Tom Lester told us he feels the principal wants what is best for the community, and called the social media criticism unfair.
He asked the board to stand up for the principal by issuing a statement explaining the facts.
“This servant of our community has family, and friends, and folks that go to church with her, and its not fair to attack someone based upon what you read on social media,” Lester said.
In the end the board of education said they would not be making any decisions Monday night.
The board said it’s their policy to stand by their employees until there’s proof of wrong-doing.
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