REDWOOD, Ore. (CNN) — Parents of a 6-year-old Oregon boy are upset about the way his school handled tardiness.
“The other morning, he was just flipping out, crying, ‘I’m gonna be tardy. I’m going to get lunch detention.’ Just tears and, ‘Mom, we gotta hurry up,” said Nicole Garloff, Hunter’s mother.
The 6-year-old’s fears come from Lincoln Elementary School’s lunch detention, reported CNN affiliate KDRV.
“He gets his detention for every tardy for the rest of the semester,” Garloff said.
The first-grader has often been late since the New Year.
“So, it’s not just one detention. He will get one every time he is tardy,” she said.
However, his parents say being late is not Hunter’s fault.
“We drive him to school, so if he is late, it’s because of us,” said Mark Cmelo, Hunter’s father.
The family lives within a mile of the school, but walking is not safe.
“I don’t want my kid walking down a busy road,” said Cmelo.
Nicole also struggles with osteoporosis.
“It causes a lot of pain and in the morning, it’s especially hard for me to get going,” she said.
On top of that and a 3-year-old, the family had some car issues.
It was a problem Cmelo couldn’t help with since he leaves for work at 6 a.m.
“It does not make it easy for her in the morning,” he said.
His parents say Hunter was never punished last year, and they didn’t realize it was a problem until recently.
“Tardiness is an issue and I understand that it’s disruptive. But he’s only ever one or two minutes late,” Garloff said.
After posting a photo of her grandson at lunch on Facebook, Laura Hoover’s page was flooded with comments and likes.
Hoover says Hunter was one minute late to school when his mother’s car wouldn’t start one morning.
As punishment, Hoover says Hunter was forced to sit by himself at lunch with a cardboard cubicle surrounding him.
“He was just at the last table in the lunch room by the back door and there’s a cup turned over that has a big ‘D’ on it,” said Garloff.
John Higgins, the school district’s superintendent, said each elementary school develops their own system for addressing tardiness.
However, he said discipline is not the purpose of the protocols, adding that the priority should be on allowing the child to catch up on what they missed.
“I feel like they are shaming him for something that’s not in his control. It’s our fault. That form of punishment is not acceptable to me for my child and I don’t want to see anybody’s child shamed like that,” Cmelo said.