- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

An Alabama father is accusing an elementary school of bullying and “branding” his 8-year-old son after lunch workers stamped the boy’s arm because his account was running low.

Jon Bivens of Gardendale said he initially thought the smiley face stamp on his son’s arm was for a job well done, but upon closer inspection he realized it said, “I need lunch money,” AL.com reported.

Mr. Bivens said his son usually brings his own lunch to Gardendale Elementary School but sometimes likes to buy ice cream and other treats in the cafeteria.

The father said he normally receives an email from the school when their son’s account is running low. He said that during his son’s last week of third grade, the boy decided to buy some ice cream, which brought his balance down to $1.38, AL.com reported.

Mr. Bivens said officials then “branded” his son with the stamp. He responded by taking his son out of school for the remainder of the academic year.

“When you start stamping a message on a child’s body instead of calling … it’s not OK,” he said. “It’s a form of bullying and shaming the kids.”

Gardendale Elementary School Principal Laura Ware said she was not aware of the incident, but that the lunchroom department uses different methods of alerting parents of their child’s balance, including emails, notes, stickers and stamps, AL.com reported.

She said that the school first sends emails when a child’s account balance is low, and if parents do not respond, lunch workers resort to stickers or stamps, like the one Mr. Bivens‘ son received. She said that the school would be happy to only send emails and exclude stamps for Mr. Bivens‘ son, AL.com reported.

“We want to communicate in a way that our parents are happy with,” Ms. Ware said. “That’s a part of our jobs.”

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