Parents entrust schools in ensuring their child’s education, grooming, and nurturing. This is why parents are always in a state of comfort when their kids are at school, knowing that he or she is under an amazing environment and great care. This, however, was not the case at a school in Colorado, when a young girl came back home starving, as her school did not let her enjoy the food her mother packed. It is safe to say, seeing your child return from school completely drained and hungry would strike a nerve for parents, and that is exactly what happened as this issue ignited heated debates and discussions on a school recognizing its boundaries. The matter escalated as topics of children’s health, nutrition, and the relationship between parents and teachers were dragged in the conversation too.
Not Just Any Other Day
The first story begins with Leeza Pearson and her little daughter, as just like any other day, Leeza was looking forward to welcoming her girl as she returned from school. This, however, was not “any other day,” as to Leeza’s surprise, her daughter had not eaten her lunch at school and came home on a drained stomach.
Still confused about why her daughter did not eat her favorite lunch, Leeza opened her lunch box to find the untouched food and a peculiar note. She could not, however, get her head around what was written in the note, leaving her in a state of great confusion.
Crossing the Line
Aurora, Colorado holds a sweet place in the hearts of Leeza and her small family. Filled with loving and accepting people, they always felt a peace of mind living in Aurora, and never worried about something bad happening to them.
Having high hopes and expectations result in an equally bigger feeling of disappointment when something unfortunate happens, and this is precisely why Leeza was agitated by how her daughter was dealt with at the Aurora’s Children Academy, as this time they crossed a line that should never have been crossed.
The Top Academy
A parent aspires towards giving the best possible educational opportunities to their children, especially in an extremely competitive environment. Leeza felt blessed that her little angle, Natalee got in the esteemed Children’s Academy, being optimistic about her and the school.
You should never get on a mother’s bad side, and the Academy soon learned that lesson. Distraught by what was happening with her daughter, she decided to take the school head-on, as she marched towards the school with her daughter’s lunch box and did something no one would have foreseen.
Wanting the Best for Your Children
An exclusive and elite preschool, The Children’s Academy & Childcare Center at Aurora accommodated up to 150 students at a time. Due to its supreme reputation, the majority of the parents hoped that this school would act as a great training ground and launching pad for the elementary school.
Leeza shared a similar thought process, as she had gotten Natalee enrolled in “The Children’s Academy & Childcare Center” as well. Leeza’s decision was based on pure intentions and good faith, as no parent would want to send their precious child in an environment that would be bad for them.
Let the Good Times Roll
Don’t we all love those times when there is a continuous flow of positive energy, incredible moments, and even a better future at the horizons? Leeza had been going through this phase of life, as she was just about to earn her degree, and Natalee was having a great time standing out amongst her peers.
Things were looking good for Leeza. Unfortunately, her life was about to go down a steep hill. Perhaps this is why people are afraid of getting used to the good times, as who knows when the next test in life would pop-up.
Not a Friday She Was Looking Forward To
The academy was living up to Leeza’s expectations. A year had almost passed by in the blink of an eye, Natalee had fully adjusted to a new learning environment, and Leeza had nothing to complain about the school. All of this was about to change soon.
Everyone loves Friday, but for Leeza and her family, this day could not have been more unfortunate. It seemed like Leeza and her husband Nate’s good streak in life had ended, as Leeza had now found herself with a major grievance.
A Small Mistake
The life of a mother is a grueling yet rewarding experience. The challenge of motherhood levels up when you have to manage a young child, and this was the case with Leeza too. One day while packing lunch for Natalee, she failed to recognize that there were no fruits or vegetables to add in her lunch box.
For once, Leeza packed the lunch box without any of the nutritious fruits and vegetables, and this insignificant decision ended up becoming one of Leeza’s big mistakes in life. No one can really blame Leeza for this though.
A Sweet Surprise
On the same day, Natalee was treated to a special treat, as in place of the fruits and vegetables, Leeza had sneaked in some Oreos in the lunch box. Oreos were sure to cover up for the lack of sweetness missing from fruits, but they were not much of a healthy substitution.
To make the entire lunch experience more wholesome, Leeza had also packed a delicious ham and cheese sandwich complemented by a stringed cheese. This was not the usual meal combination, as usually, Leeza ensured that there were some fruits and vegetables in the lunch box too.
The Dark Side of Oreos
This strikes up the question, what is the big deal with having Oreos in a lunch box? Even though Oreos are addictively delicious, they are nowhere near a healthy food option, especially for kids. Much of it has to do with the fact that Oreos are bombarded with artificial ingredients.
Diabetes and heart disease are two of the primary consequences of frequent Oreos consumption. Perhaps the trigger behind the note was the thought of the adverse consequences of eating Oreos.
I Am Starving, Mom!
Going back to the infamous Friday, Natalee came home from a tiring day of school with a complaint about her mother. Upon entering her house, she quickly let her mother know that she was still hungry after half of the day had passed, and she had not eaten the lunch that packed for her.
The Oreo packet was right where Leeza had put it in the lunch box, but this time it came with a note from the school. Reading the note from the school left her appalled.
An Uncalled for Note
Leeza was soon to share what message Natalee had brought for her from the school. It showed how the school dared to teach parents some parenting, along with telling them to be more responsible.
The letter preached about the importance of a healthy lunch for children, particularly in a school setting. It reminded parents that having fruit, vegetable, a glass of milk and a small snack was necessary for every kid, and if someone brings any form of potato, then they should be complemented by bread.
Taking the Issue to the Public
Leeza was furious about this act of the school. She wanted the school to be held accountable, and she wanted people to be aware of what had just happened. To achieve this, Leeza posted a picture of the note she received on the internet.
The other half of the note went further by letting the parents know that fruit snacks, peanut butter, and chips were not a healthy option, and they did not go well with their school’s program. First of all this is an explicit form of second-hand parenting, and secondly, the school could have just politely advised Leeza and let this slide, but sending back a student hungry just elevated the entire issue to another level.
Support Pouring In
Leeza’s cry was heard around the community, as her post received enormous attention from everyone, and support poured in from all directions for Leeza. The entire scenario of a school telling the parents what to do was just absurd.
To Leeza’s amazement, the issue she raised was backed by some of her old friends as well, people who she had not been in contact for years, with a friend calling the incident “ridiculous.”
The Rising Rate of Obesity
In this modern-day and era, people are extremely aware of having a healthy diet and avoiding food, which could lead to obesity. In contrast, more and more people, especially children, are becoming obese due to high calorie and sugary foods. Perhaps the school was just trying to save Natalee from getting in the habit of eating sugary snacks.
Being one of the prestigious schools of the region, the Children’s Academy probably was looking out for the best interest of their students, as in comparison to previous years, the number of obese individuals has been growing exponentially.
Eating and Living Healthy
Healthy eating is gradually becoming the norm, and this practice is increasingly being instilled in children at a young age. The Children’s Academy did what it felt necessary, as the behavior portrayed by parents is what lead to the Hunger-Free Kids Act in the first place.
One might think that Leeza’s reaction was not justified, and she overreacted, but it was how she reacted that caught the corner of everyone’s eyes. No matter which side of the debate you may be on, sending back a child starving is no answer.
The Research Behind Healthy Eating Habits
A notable associate professor of Economics and Education Policy from NYU, named Sean Patrick once remarked that healthy food consumption by students has a direct correlation with them being more focused and active in classes along with an increase in their cognitive functionality.
The point of enrolling in the top-notch Children’s Academy was for Natalee to achieve quality education. However, eating unhealthy food just goes against this entire point, as it is crystal clear from established studies.
Things You Should Never Tell a Parent
Let us halt the debate for a moment. It is understood that Leeza took the matter to heart also because she was indirectly made an example of and her parenting itself was questioned by the school management.
Even though the note did not explicitly call out Leeza, Leeza being implicitly targeted by the school, her daughter goes to only worsened the situation. Things like these are not something that a concerned parent takes lightly, often leading them into self-doubt.
The School Had No Right
She took things off her chest by saying it all out when it was time to communicate with the media. According to her, she had no objections to the school wanting to get their students to eat healthily, but that they handled the entire situation disastrously.
Feeling embarrassed, she thought that the school was in no place to tell the students what they can and cannot eat, and many others shared that opinion as well.
Overstepping the Boundaries
It is quite easy to say that Leeza’s reaction was not justified, but considering the situation from the perspective of a mother who not only saw her kid return home hungry but was also told what food she should give and what she should not give was just crossing the boundaries.
Leeza exclaimed that she was entitled to her choice of food and the school had no say in it whatsoever. She went on by making it clear that Natalee’s food choice was and will be based on her own choice, Natalee’s preference, and her daughter.
As for Fit as a Fiddle
The entire fiasco would have made more sense if Natalee were an obese kid, gulping soda after a hot dog every single day. Preventing children from a high-calorie diet from a young age is an appreciated practice, but this was not the case in this particular scenario.
Natalee was one of the skinniest and most energetic girls in her school. Perhaps this is why Leeza has left with her head-scratching when she read the note, linking this action to a deeper message sent from the school.
Holding Her Ground
Leeza was resilient with her stance, as Natalee was nowhere near obese and the issue created by the school did not justify in her eyes for a bit.
Leeza reiterated that her lunch box had more than just cookies, and it was not as if Leeza had packed enough Oreos for the entire school. This is what troubled Leeza, as she felt that a big spotlight was put on her and Natalee for something insignificant.
Practice What You Preach
Leeza’s argument was further solidified by her bringing up something unique about the Academy. Apparently, the school had been offering treats to the students in the past, which leaves one wondering, if it is all right for the school to hand out treats, then what is wrong with a parent doing the same.
She brought the issue to wider audiences through her interview at ABC News. She rhetorically asked how it was appropriate for the school to dictate what a mother cannot give her child, but they at the same time have a free pass to offer junk food.
Come to think of it, what is wrong with having a kid eat her favorite cookies every now and then? Especially on a Friday? She was clearly not overweight, and so Leeza continued to stand up what she believed was right.
She further clarified that as a parent who is concerned for her health, she did not give her the cookies every day, but her lunch box was filled with delicious yet healthy goodness every single day. Her arguments caught on with a great proportion of the audience.
Insult to Injury
The advice would have carried some weight if it came from any organization other than a school. Not only was the note an insult for Leeza, but it felt like salt on wounds when a school was preaching about food quality and choice, and the organization is notoriously known for poor food.
Food available at schools is borderline uneatable, as it tastes like rubber while having an unrecognizable texture. Schools are stereotyped for having the worst possible food, and this is implicitly proven by teachers themselves handing out candies to their students.
The Director to the Rescue
It is part of a director’s job description to know how the school operates and how to deal with such unforeseen circumstances. During this time, Brenda Dean was the director of the esteemed Children’s Academy.
Leeza’s efforts bore fruits as the director realized that sending out a note was contrary to the school’s policy and that there was no justification for sending back Natalee hungry on that day. Brenda Dean played her part as the head of the Academy perfectly, as her words brought much-needed ease to the escalating tensions.
What Really Happened
Here is where things get even more interesting. If you had pictured Natalee’s lunch being forcefully taken away from her and then thrown in the garbage, think again as this is not what really happened. Actually, no one even took her food in the first place.
It is essential to be skeptical of whatever you hear these days, and this was true in this scenario too, as it turns out, she was not left to starve in the middle of the cafeteria. The truth had started to unravel slowly but surely.
Cut the School Some Slack
New revelations had started to drop after Aurora Public Schools Chief Communications Officer took to the stage. She revealed that even though parents were notified about healthy eating, it should have never been looked like a form of disgrace.
Patti Moon, the Chief Communications Officer, also enlightened everyone that Natalee was actually offered an alternative to her Oreos. The school was not as barbaric as Leeza had shown after all, as they did take the required steps to ensure Natalee would not return to home starving.
A Tough Kid
Looking at the scenario retrospectively, you can easily see that Natalee had been reluctant to eat anything other than her own food, as she took on a resilient stance.
We would be jumping to conclusions if we did not see what was happening from the lenses of Natalee as well, as she defiantly stayed there, with everyone enjoying their meals around her. Not looking to go down easily, she stayed her course to prove a point that it was not fair of the school to take her snack away.
Things Begin to Ease
Things kept on going like this between Leeza and the school, as the flares of the heat between the two parties never seemed to simmer down. With time, however, things eased up, as Natalee had moved on to elementary school.
After all of this drama, everyone who witnessed it all must begin to wonder what lesson was there in this for me. Leeza’s life surely got better though, as she no longer had to set foot in that school again.
Lessons Were Learned
An obvious lesson learned by the school was to not send such notes to parents again as they had already gone through enough trouble for a small note sent out of good faith.
This daunting chapter was soon closed in the books of Leeza and Natalee, as Natalee continues to flourish in elementary school. No matter how significant the issue was, all of the talking did shed some light on the role of a school in its student’s eating habits. Finally, schools overall also learned that they should never cross the fine line between schooling and parenting.
Another Story, Another Unusual Note from the School
We now shift our attention to another case. All kinds of schools enforce a dressing policy for their students. The policy might include mandatory uniforms in the form of collared shirts; some schools do not allow shorts and sleeveless tops, while others prohibit wearing clothes with logos.
Some schools take their dressing policy religiously, and that is why one school sent an unexpected note to a mother, informing about her 13-year daughter’s violation of the school dress code. Initially not batting an eye on the note, she reached her limit when she got the note again, forcing her to some sort of action.
Things Were Looking Good
A writer and a social worker by profession, Dr. Catherine Pearlman is another typical loving mother, who perhaps showers her children with snacks and treats as soon as they get back home from school.
She resides in California with her small family and a pet dog, who goes by the name Norma. Growing up in Long Island, New York, she lives a happy and content life with her husband and two young kids.
A Parenting Expert
Dr. Pearlman prides herself on being a specialist on families and parenting, with her writing her own blog called The Family Coach. The blog deals with numerous topics related to managing a household with kids, by covering topics such as sibling rivalry, discipline, sleep training, nutrition, and potty training as well.
She calls for continuous improvement through her blog and has the credentials to back up her coaching as well. She is an alumnus of NYU, with a doctorate from Yeshiva University on social welfare. Along with being an assistant professor at Bradman University, she also carries out private practice.
No Yoga Pants at School
Pearlman had spent her life helping others with parental issues. In 2016, she found herself amid a scene regarding her daughter and her school. According to one of the school’s teachers, female students were now prohibited from wearing yoga pants in a gym class.
A skintight apparel, yoga pants are made using cotton and spandex. In Pearlman’s sight, the new rule was absurd, with the reasoning behind it making it all even more ridiculous.
The teacher confidently remarked that the new rule was enforced to protect girls from the uncontrollable urges of boys. Boys at this age are extremely hormonal, and studying in an environment with girls wearing yoga pants would just ignite their animalistic desires.
Banning yoga pants seemed like the appropriate response to this dilemma, but Pearlman was having none of it. She also could not get her head around what kind of incidents may occur in a high school environment.
Learn from the Past
Pearlman took her frustrations out on her popular blog, having years of experience dealing with the natural changes in teenagers. She was also familiar with the changing atmosphere at the house when a kid reaches adolescence.
She highlighted that in the 20th century, girls used to wear miniskirts that barely covered their rears, but the boys back then had no difficulty in holding themselves back and behaving. Fashion over time has included clothing that frequently exposed the beauty of the female body, so why is it that now that the issue is being created?
Need for Accountability
Pearlman was also no fan of the school’s dress code, citing that it was designed to target girls. She strongly urged in her blog that banning toga pants is equivalent to acknowledging that boys are not responsible for their actions, which are dictated from their desires.
She called for boys to be held responsible for their actions and to practice control over their urges, similar to how boys were in the 20th century. She further iterated that it made no sense in blaming girls for something boys did.
Freedom for Girls
Pearlman wrote down in her blog that the school had no right to shame girls for their choice of wearing yoga pants and restricting them by covering themselves up. Girls had no duty to control the actions of boys, and they had every right to be wearing something they were comfortable in.
To sum it up, Pearlman spoke up that girls should not constrain themselves with the fear of boys doing something embarrassing, and that if such an incident does take place, then boys should be held responsible.
To Pearlman, the school overreacted by banning yoga pants. If the girls were wearing extremely provocative clothing that exposed a lot of cleavage then the reaction would have been justified.
Things further escalated when her daughter was given a notice for the second time for a dress code violation. This time however Pearlman had had enough, as she wanted to address the issue head-on instead of just writing a blog for the public.
Boy’s Shorts Will Do
Her daughter was given the notice for two days in a row. The first notice related to her wearing yoga pants, which apparently wreak havoc at the school. The second notice, however, was on her wearing shorts in the school.
What was worse than consecutive notices was that this time, the school administration forced her daughter to change into a pair of boys short. It is clear to say that this would have been an embarrassing moment for her and her mother, infuriating her even further. It is as though boys wearing shorts was perfectly normal, but if a girl is wearing them, then the entire world collapses.
Penning down the Frustration
Livid after being disgraced two days in a row, Pearlman sent out a letter to the school principal. She pointed out that initially she was targeted on wearing casual clothing that is worn by millions of others, especially when going to the gym.
Then her choice of wearing shorts were objected to, keeping the hot weather in context. In her letter, she directly addressed the principal by asking her to go shopping for clothes with her own daughter so that she too would have an idea about the type of clothing available, and so that she could find something “appropriate.”
A Challenge Issued
The principal was given a shopping challenge, in which she was asked to find clothing for her daughter, which she could wear on a day-to-day basis at school. She specified her daughter’s height and age as being 5 feet 7 inches and 13 years old and reminded the principal that her daughter had remarkably long limbs.
Pearlman wanted it to be known to the principal that boys and girls do not have the same type of body, and in her daughter’s case, she happened to be comparatively taller than her peers with longer arms and legs. The point she wanted to get across was that she had limited choice in clothing.
Not Your Stereotypical Girl
She proceeded to define the tastes and preferences of her daughter, as she commented that her daughter was not a typical teenage girl who loves pink colors, flowers, ponies, sequins and lace and other girly accessories. She was someone who enjoyed wearing comfortable clothes such. This included her favorite t-shirts from her beloved band.
This leads the conversation to more loose yet appropriate clothing options such as sweat pants. Sweat pants, however, were out of the equation as she suffered from overheating issues. Not only are they not a fashionable choice of clothing for a teenage girl, but they make you sweat, something her daughter would definitely not be comfortable in.
An Intricate Dress Code
Making things even more difficult for her daughter was the complex school dress code. She reminded the principal of this crucial point too as if things were not already difficult, she had to adhere to the weird dress code requirements as well.
She stated some of the points mentioned in the dress code that felt difficult to avoid, such as the prohibition of tank tops. The requirements also included the point that mandated the shorts and skirts to not extend to the end of the fingertips. This becomes extraordinarily problematic for someone who naturally has long arms.
An Exhaustive Activity
Her daughter’s long fingers seemed to be a liability for her as they just made fitting into the school criteria even more difficult. On the flip side of the coin, her long fingers helped her tremendously for her piano lessons, something Pearlman mentioned in the letter as well.
Pearlman was speaking out of the experience when she was writing that letter, as she had already made great strides to find some appropriate clothing for her school. Her efforts had however failed, much like hundreds of other moms, and so she had scheduled more afternoons and a weekend from her busy schedule to go hunting once again.
Money Does Not Grow on Trees
To sum it up, Pearlman’s problems revolved primarily around her daughter not being allowed to wear yoga pants, leading to her not being allowed to wear shorts that abide by a specific length standard, and finally, she had to figure out other options that would also go very well with her daughter’s taste in clothing.
To make matters even worse was the realization of the amount of money being spent on clothes. Every parent knows that it is not smart to invest too much on a child’s wardrobe during teen years, as they would only be useful for a few years.
Time for a Change
To take out her frustration, Pearlman resorted to sarcasm at the end of the note, as she politely thanked the principal for adding another chore in her already busy life.
She concluded by emphasizing her emotions, and her sentiments towards the dress code by referring to herself as “Sick of the Dress Code Mom.” Who knows, perhaps the letter to the individual holding all authority would be enough to shed some light on modifying the existing dress code.
Hypocrisy on Display
Whether or not the letter was enough to bring about some change in the dressing policy, one thing was certain that it did raise a huge discussion across the country, from parents and families sharing similar sentiments.
People felt empathetic towards Pearlman and her daughter, as her letter had now gone viral. They responded positively for her call to a change, also, to further commenting on how many of the schools were hypocritical in implementing the dress code policy.
No Rules and Regulations for Boys?
What bothered parents across the states was the double-sided nature of the policy of numerous schools, with many not even addressing how boys should be dressed. One mother commented on Pearlman’s Facebook that a boy wearing a shirt with pot leaves is appropriate as long as a boy is wearing it.
This mother stated how a girl exposing her midriffs during a PE class was deemed inappropriate by the school management, but they turn a blind eye when a boy is wearing a shirt with explicit drug symbols.
Hope for a Better Future
The letter boils down to some important perspectives Pearlman and numerous other parents shared. The school policy was designed in a way, which explicitly targeted young girls, while completely ignoring how boys are supposed to act responsibly and humanely. Her letter also could not emphasize enough on the point that girls are never to be held accountable for the misconduct of boys.
It would also be more effective and efficient if the school and the teachers did what they were supposed to do instead of measuring shorts in context with fingernails. At the end of it all, Pearlman and hundreds of parents look forward to a time where girls will have greater freedom in their clothing, and boys would be expected to control themselves around girls.