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Parents: School shamed our son for being late, but it wasn’t his fault

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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.

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59 comments

  • Connie Garcia

    Poor little guy. It breaks my heart to see this. I have a 5 year old son and I never want him to feel the humiliation the way this little boy has. Bless his heart. Prayers sent.

  • Samantha Lloyd

    There is absolutely NO reason he should be getting punished for something out of his control. I can tell you right now if that was my son the would be up the schools rear end giving them a piece of my mind. No child deserves that.

    • Keene

      There is absolutely no reason for him to be late practically every day. There’s hardship, and then there’s just lack of planning, organization, and critical thought. Getting somewhere on time requires nothing more than giving yourself enough time to get ready and travel there. If it’s an issue of only a few minutes late as the mother claims, then the fix is easy. Wake up and get started fifteen to thirty minutes earlier. Dad may not be available to take the kid to school, but he could warm the car up while he’s getting ready so that it starts later for mom. Or grandma could do more to help than put the principal on blast. There a list as long as my arm of ways to fix this without pulling the disability card.

      • Anne Bleckov

        Just saw this story on the ‘tube’. My thoughts exactly, Keene! Kudos! I would add, typical liberal behavior from the school… No thought as to how, exactly, this sort of punishment would better the situation. And obviously no thought as to how the public would react, for the most part. Maybe, though, they didn’t care? What better way to turn your kid against you…

        • Timothy Curtis

          Typical Liberal approach??? I agree better planning and adjustment in schedule is necessary. But WOW Ms. Bleckov. to put it as a Liberal thing is absurd. I am pretty sure there are flakes from both ways of thinking, Conservative & Liberal. When did we as a society become politicians, needing left and right to persuade our thoughts?

          • David Silbernagel

            Well I understand the connection. Because you do not I will guess you are also a liberal!

      • Tru Hardword

        True, better planning is a factor here. However, seeing that the child was late nearly every day, the school should have investigated to see if there was in fact a problem at home before putting HIM on blast. Then they could have made the necessary suggestions to the parents as to what could have been done better. Any time there’s a repetitive problem with a child, you don’t just “shoot first, ask questions later…” so to speak. Always research the issue.

      • David Silbernagel

        You are right on what you say but that still does not make what the school did right. If this punishment came down from the principle she needs to be gone and bared from ever teaching or supervising children again. If it came from the school board then they should all be humiliated right out of town. I would even consider criminal charges for child abuse!!!

      • Karan Gerber

        it was originally posted on facebook by the grandmother wanting the school to be centered out. The parents cannot afford a reliable vehicle and here you are saying they should get up earlier, not sure if that is going to get the car running any better, but at least they got the child there, late or not!

    • Angela Thomas

      Then his parents need to spoken to about truancy laws. Even a tardy student is considered a truant if they are consistently late. Maybe then they will get him to school on time. They need to see if they can arrange alternate transportation to the school. Maybe in this instance the school district will allow him to ride the bus even though he lives a mile from the school.

  • ShadowWalker59

    It sure takes guts to “shame” some poor little boy, doesn’t it! The school and the ‘teacher’, should be ashamed of themselves. Is this another small part of that manure they call ‘Common Crap’? Doing something ‘bad’ or told not to do, is one thing, but being late and not because the little fella had a say in the matter, and then shame him before his peers, is absolutely asinine!!!

  • di

    good job with the ph# at the very least it will be a huge pain in the butt for for ms fitzgerald she will have to change her # and let all of her cantacts know. I think it is a good punishment for her

  • Mel

    Bullying a child pure and simple!! Where was the phone call to the parents? What the teacher isn’t a big enough bully to pick on someone their own size? So why not just add the D dunce cap?

    • skinsgame

      How do you know there wasn’t a call made to the parents? What makes you think the parents weren’t being sent notes about the poor kid getting detention EVERYDAY because he was tardy EVERYDAY? Get yourself fitted for a dunce cap, Mel.

  • Lorry Waiss

    It breaks my heart to see this but if the parents are so upset with it the make extra time in the morning to make sure he is not late. He may be only a minute or two late but late is late an it is disruptive to the teacher an rest of the class when some one enters late.

  • Monica Chipman

    Does this school also use dunce caps on their students? Honestly, this seems like a form of bullying (abuse) and SOMEONE in that school should have done something about this, just knowing that another teacher or adult didn’t step in scares me.

  • Susan

    Any commenter above in support of shaming is a narcissist. Numerous scientific studies have been published in regards to the psychological damage caused to children because of the emotional ABUSE of shaming. Have none of you ever been late before? Ha I’m sure you have. And imagine if your employer did this to you. You people are disgusting and obviously ignorant. Adult children raised by narcissistic parents frequently tell similar childhood stories of shame and humiliation. Often these shaming acts take place in front of other people. Treating children badly and without respect is detrimental. This qualifies as child abuse and the authorities should be involved.

  • Starlet

    Because teacher nowadays are so superior to the point that they don’t consider the explanation of a student for being late. But if that teacher is being late or absent, student just accept it without objection. How poor being a student was. 😦

    • Katie

      So true! My friend is a teacher and its amazing the number of vacation days/sick days/holidays/personal days they have! No other adult professionals get that kind of time off.

      • Jill

        You seem to forget how many selfless, non-paid hours the teachers work, putting in all their nights and weekends grading papers, creating lesson plans, emailing and speaking with parents, attending meetings and conferences. Also, please remember how many class supplies and personal supplies the teachers supply for their kids. Oh, and they’re not paid over the summer months, when they aren’t working. Hmmmm all for pennies a day for salary.

          • Jill

            That’s right, their last paycheck is in May and they don’t receive another until Sept here in AZ. I’ve never known a teacher to get paid year round.

        • Katie

          one of my good friends is a teacher and right out of college she’s making 39k which i realize doesn’t make her rich but i wouldn’t call that a penny salary. and yes, she most def does get paid in the summer! and over her 2 week xmas break. and over her 1 week spring break. And she gets more paid sick days than any other professional i know.

  • Vikki

    This story says she has osteoporosis. As someone who has major osteo let me just say–this mother is wrong, wrong, WRONG! Yes–some mornings it is hard to get going. Some mornings it hurts. Some mornings are better than others. But at the ripe old age of 49 I get up every morning just a little earlier to compensate for the slow moving. I work, and get to work ON TIME! Yes–it would be more difficult with small children–but she needs to get herself out of bed earlier. She is being lazy and playing the sympathy card. I am not buying in to her laziness and excuses. The school had to do something to get it across to her that the child needs to be on time. Maybe now she will take them seriously.

    • Bryce P

      Vikki,
      I couldn’t agree more. This is solely on the parents. They need to take responsibility for their son being late to school. On of my biggest pet peeves nowadays is punctuality. The majority of people think being late is justified if there is a reason or if they call ahead to inform you. This clearly isn’t the case. Planning ahead and allowing yourself extra time in case of issues (i.e. traffic, car trouble, physical limitations) is something few people take into account. I can’t tell you the last time I was out to dinner with a group of friends or for business when someone wasn’t 15-20 minutes late and never even apologized for inconveniencing everyone else. I give the school credit for not enabling such behavior. Shaping our children now will result in punctual and responsible adults.

      • Katie

        lol you sound like a blast to hang out with Bryce! honestly, with all the awful people and things that go on in this world, if your life is so charmed that you find yourself getting angry over people sometimes being 15 minutes late to dinner, i think you are a very lucky man.

      • David Silbernagel

        Again what is wrong with the people who try to justify the schools position by blaming the tardiness. . The problem is how the tardiness was handled not the tardiness itself. The school just plain does not have a proper plan to handle tardiness.

    • Anne

      That’s great that you’re able to handle your illness so well Vicki. But maybe his mom is just going through a really tough time, medically and emotionally? I just don’t get why some people seem so furious that shes struggling with tardiness. It’s an issue, but its certainly not the worst thing a parent can do. Maybe she is being lazy, but maybe she’s also actually trying her best and just coming up a little short this year. it happens sometimes.

  • Darin

    Seems both the school and the parents need to make some changes. Setting the student off on a table with a screen and essentially a Dunce cup is humiliating. Much better ways the school could set appropriate consequences for tardiness. Parents need to get up earlier to ensure there is enough time to move at the pace they need to and still make it on time. Also I wonder if the school has talked to the parents to discuss solutions or just punishes the child without trying to resolve the problem.

  • Gloria LovesGod

    The school is absolutely wrong on this matter!! If the school had such a problem with the child coming to class late, than speak with the PARENTS!!! Sounds much too easy doesn’t it, but it’s the appropriate thing to do. To punish a child for a situation that’s not in his control is abusive! So if a tornado comes and knocks down the school I’m guessing it’s alright to blame the pupils, right? Well that’s what this simplistic protocol is doing. Point is… Address the appropriate party involved here, which is the parents!!!!! For those of you who are actually defending this kind of treatment to a small child… quite frankly you’re Nuts and have lost all common sense and a tender heart!!!

      • Lori

        If they had talked to the parents they would have known it wasn’t the child’s fault and therefore not punished him. And since he was still being punished they must not have talked to the parents.

  • amy

    I don’t think what the school did was right but at the same time the parents aren’t being responsible either. They know what time they have to leave and yes there is a medical issue so to me that parent needs to start earlier in the morning to be able to get out the door. The child is being responsible and saying they need to hurry. You can blame everything on everyone else but in the long run it is the parents fault and they need to figure out how to get there earlier.

  • Casaundra May

    I really encourage the parents of this boy to file a lawsuit. It truly is the only way to motivate these school districts.
    They will attempt to ‘deescalate’ the ‘problem’ but the problem truly lies within the school policies and what has been obviously been going on for some time now.
    Grownups who work and volunteer at the school let it happen. They need to be held accountable for it.
    Sad thing is, no one really talked about what this will do long term for the child’s learning experience AND how this endorses bully behavior.
    The U.S. is so entrenched with bully mentality and most people can’t see it because they are a part of it in one way or another.
    I really think it is time to reevaluate how bullying is defined. The parameters are too narrow and do not cover the scope of this epidemic.

    • Vikki

      A lawsuit?? Really?? Volunteers that work at the school should be held accountable?? For what exactly? Being at work on time?? To be honest filing a lawsuit–THAT is exactly what is wrong with this country! Instead of blaming the school, the volunteers, the area they live in–how about these parents take responsibility for their OWN actions?? I am tired of people blaming everyone else for their own failings and when they do not get what they want they file a law suit. Grow up! It is YOUR responsibility as a parent to make sure your kids get to school on time. So get your behind out of bed–like all the other parents of the school do–and get him there. There is no excuse for him to be late.

  • Dorota Majewska Umeno

    That’s so wrong :(. I just don’t get it. How punishing a small boy even makes sense? What’s the point? What’s the desired outcome? Is the message “parents, bring your children on time or we’ll bully them?” I don’t care how often he’s has been tardy. I have a sweet boy that age. It would break his heart. Sick to my stomach over this.

  • Jill Malloy

    I think the principal is bullying the kid and they say kids are always bullying the kids, but this is bullying a kid even though they are trying to do away with this.

  • jjed

    Sweet little boy. Principal and teacher should be ASHAMED of themselves. I hope they come to terms with
    the unwarranted harm they inflicted on this nice little boy.

  • Susan

    Breaks my heart to have one treated like that; public humiliation of children promotes bullying and what they did is nothing less than that in itself. Do they as teachers not know how mean other kids are? They are there to teach the children not humiliate and bully them. Parents fault as well, if you know you are consistently late for any reason reach out to others for help. Teacher should have notified the parents of their policy

  • Jim Bond

    …“Tardiness is an issue and I understand that it’s disruptive. But he’s only ever one or two minutes late,” Garloff said.
    This statement tells me all I need to know. Why should YOU be above the rules set for others? It is JUST as easy to be 10m early as 1m-2m late. YOU are not showing respect for the rules. Set your damn clock earlier. The child must be punished because the lame-4$$ parent is too freak’n lazy to take responsibility. Boo-hoo, I have a disability — OH, but I AM able to get him here within 5m of being late. Cry me a river. IF you can be consistently 5m late, you CAN be consistently 5m early…it is called ‘TIME MANAGEMENT’ Figure it out and stop making your child deal with isolation.
    #IDIOTWORLDORDER

    • Alice Folk

      I agree no excuse for the mother being late. Don’t know how you should deal with it except to send a truant officer to warn the parents that one more late and they will do jail time. It is child abuse not to send your child to school and illegal. If the parents can’t take him they need to find another way to get him there on time even if they need to send him by taxi. No reason to punish the child for the sins of the parents.

      • Aefan Good

        A sensible Principal would pick up the telephone first or invite the parents into school to discuss this matter and find out what is occurring to make a child late.

  • cate

    The child shouldn’t be punished, the parents should. If the mother claims to have osteoporosis, then maybe she should get up earlier in the morning. They should stop blaming others for their poor parenting, get up earlier if it means their child gets to school on time, it’s the responsible thing to do. The mother looks young, probably from the generation that takes no responsibility for their own actions.

  • Justin Myers

    A Gofundme account has been established for Hunter please SHARE SHARE SHARE the link to get it out there most people want to help repair the car or get them a new one but don’t know where to donate to. Here’s the
    linkgofundme.com/ne0w5w

    • Cate

      Really? People should donate to a family that already takes no responsibility for their actions and are clearly irresponsible?!?! They’ll probably take the money and run! I’d rather light my money on fire than give it to them! I grew up extremely poor and sometimes my mother didn’t even have a car. But somehow she managed to get my sister and I to school on time each and every day without blaming other people for her problems!

  • Aefan Good

    That is sheer wickedness and stupidity on the part of the school! What IS the Principal thinking of? He is such a small child and if he is late then it must be the parents’ fault. If I were the Principal, I would have a word with the parents. The trouble is that far too many Principals simply have no common sense or people skills.

  • Joseph Heller

    If they’re so worried about the consequences for lateness, GET YOUR KID TO SCHOOL ON TIME!!! If there’s problems with the car, or the mother is tired in the morning…NO EXCUSE…get started earlier, anticipate the problems and allow enough time for them. I don’t condone how the school handled it, but the root of this is that this kid is chronically late to school…SOMETHING had to be done.

  • Russ Goodale

    The school needs to stay UNDER FIRE until they apologize to the boy for their wrongful policy to punish him for being tardy by fault of someone else which means IT IS NOT HIS FAULT! If the school wants to change this, they need to make arrangements for the child to be picked up by someone that can be trusted. An exception.

    So far I have only seen the school has apologized to the parents. Sure, the parents deserved an apology, however, it was the child that was publicly embarrassed, not the parents.

  • Watcher

    Late to school is late to school no matter who is at fault. The true problem is using humiliation techniques in a grade school for any reason.

  • Elicia

    If they need to punish someone, then punish the parents. DO not punish this innocent little boy. What a bunch of bullies! How hypocritical of the teachers/staff that have made these Bull crap rules.

  • Brandon

    Poor boy. Why do teachers get so much entertainment in making their students feel so low, even when it is not the fault of the student? Prayers to the boy and his family.

  • Peter van der Weiden

    This is way too relatable, happens to me almost every week… I cant drive myself to school and my older brother is always slow in the mornings. I always get one or two minutes late and get lunch detention just because all my teacher are stricter than most, i find this unfair in every way…