You know the old saying "There's no such thing as a free lunch"? Apparently this adage is all too true in one metro Atlanta school district, at least according to Johnny Cook, a bus driver for Haralson County Middle School. A former bus driver, that is. When Cook shared his frustrations on Facebook over a child in need being denied a free lunch, he lost his job.
According to Cook, his superintendent gave him one chance to avoid being fired -- but it would have involved deleting the Facebook post and issuing a public apology. Cook refused, and if you ask me, it sounds like he had good reason for doing so.
Cook says that last Tuesday, one of the students on his bus route told him he'd had to go without a meal that day when he couldn't afford his reduced lunch fee -- even though the school has a policy of providing any student in need with a free sandwich.
I said, 'So you didn't get to eat at all? And he said, 'No sir, I didn't get to eat anything. I had to put my tray back.'
That night, Cook posted the following on Facebook:
A lil flustered this evening.
A middle schooler got on my bus this evening and said mr johnny im hungry. I said why are you hungry buddy? Didn't you eat lunch ? He said no sir I didn't have any money on my account. I said they would let you charge it? No sir.
Huh! What! This child is already on reduced lunch and we can't let him eat. Are you kidding me? I'm certain there was leftover food thrown away today. But kids were turned away because they didn't have .40 on there account .
As a tax payer, I would much rather feed a child than throw it away. I would rather feed a child than to give food stamps to a crack head. My number is (…) the next time we can't feed a kid for forty cent, please call me . We will scrape up the money.
This is what the world has come to.
Superintendent Brett Stanton says that not only should Cook have gone to the school about the problem, the district found no evidence the incident occurred. Stanton also says that he's never received a complaint about a student being denied food in the five years he's been with the schools, despite the fact that multiple Haralson County parents posted on Cook's Facebook account that their children had also gone hungry when they didn't have money for their lunch.
I guess the bottom line here is that no matter how righteous you may believe your cause to be, complaining about your workplace on Facebook is never a good idea if you want to keep your job. Cook should have gone through the proper channels first before venting on social media.
However, if the school's stated policy is to provide a free meal for students who can't pay and they're not doing so -- well, good for Cook for stirring up this much attention over the topic. For those who support what he did, there's a Change.org petition for the Haralson School District of Tallapoosa, GA to give Mr. Cook his job back.
Here's a video on Johnny Cook's story thus far:
Do you think this bus driver was in the wrong by posting his feelings on Facebook? Should he get his job back?
Image via Change.org