Principal Noelle Roni: Fired for Opposing 'Disrespectful' Policy

Friday, 10 Jan 2014 09:56 AM

By Michael Mullins

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Principal Noelle Roni claims she was fired for her opposition to a school policy she felt embarrassed and demeaned children who are less fortunate.

The former Colorado charter school principal was terminated last November for what she says was her attempt to end a practice in which students whose families were unable to pay for school lunches had their hands stamped to identify them to servers in the lunchroom.

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Roni, a principal of nine years, told CBS News Denver that higher-ups in the school objected to her attempt to stop the program, which led to what she described as her wrongful termination.

"The kids are humiliated. They’re branded. It’s disrespectful," Roni said to CBS Denver. "Where’s the human compassion? And these are little children."

"I was shocked that their reaction was not outrage. That it was more of  'Who are you to tell us not to do this?'" she added.

According to Roni, the program resulted in some children skipping the cafeteria all together due to embarrassment.

Roni tells CBS News that she is considering filing a suit against the district to force the school to give her her job back.

"If we have to, we’ll file suit," she said. "When I see something that I feel harms children, I speak up."

While refusing to discuss the details of Roni's termination, school attorney Barry Arrington dismissed her plans for a possible suit saying, "three outside lawyers agree her claims are baseless."

According to the, other Denver-area schools inform the child's parents that their lunch accounts lack the fund necessary to provide their child with a school lunch, rather than brand the student's hand with a stamp. In the district, charter schools are reportedly allowed to set their own polices.

The food services manager responsible for the hand-stamping policy reportedly resigned after the issue was raised by Roni, considering the principal had some support for her stance from other staff at the school. It was, however, that resignation that led to at least one administrator filing a disciplinary action memo against Roni. The memo alleged her conduct led to the food services manager leaving.

CBS News reported that many students' parents objected to Roni's firing, claiming her termination resulted from inner-school politics.

"I feel she was bullied, and we want her back," one parent told CBS News.

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