Salt Lake City School Board not yet releasing findings of investigation into Uintah lunch incident

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Utah) - The Salt Lake City School Board was expected to release the findings of two external investigations Tuesday night which looked into the circumstances surrounding the throwing away of student's lunches at Uintah elementary school. After a closed door meeting the board said it needed more time.

School Board President Kristi Swett told the packed room that one of the two reports is complete, but the other is just in a final draft phase. So instead of releasing just one, they decided tonight to wait for two more weeks so they can release them together. Skeptical parents believe it's just more time the district and the board needs to cover up their mistakes.

Parents who wanted answers were left Tuesday night still questioning the school board and its actions.

Uintah parent Ashely Hoopes addressed the board saying, "She was made the scapegoat for this situation." 

The scapegoat Hoopes is referring to is Uintah Elementary School's beloved lunch lady Miss Shirley who just resigned from her position last month.

"She was experiencing a lot of emotional, physical and mental health problems because of the intimidation the fear the bullying that she's experienced since the lunch room incident," explained Hoopes.

Last school year Miss Shirley threw away dozens of children's lunches after being pressured by district officials. Parents say it wasn't her fault.

Hoopes toldABC 4 News, "She was forced to in tears because she hand't been doing it up until that point so the district sent someone out to see what was going on and said 'we're going to oversee you dumping these trays,' because they heard rumor that she was feeding the children which is now what the policy is."

Even one school board member believes the wrong person is being punished here.

School Board Member Michael Clara told ABC 4 News, "I was one of the ones, along with the parents,who asked for the investigation and when wanted to look at the actions of the district personnel because at the time the district personnel were telling us it's all the lunch lady's fault."

The findings of the external investigation now won't be made public for another two weeks, but even then it's not clear if the board will address the findings in an open forum.

During the meeting Board President Swett said, "It's not going to be just one specific meeting that's going to have this big announcement of any kind, but we feel like we just paid quite a substantial amount of money to have this external investigation done and we want to make those documents public as as quickly as possible." 

That wasn't good enough for parents and it wasn't good enough for Clara who says the school district has a systemic problem with transparency and open dialogue.

Clara addressed the school board and said, "Instead of trying to do this rigid thing like we're just going to throw this out like a bone and you guys are dogs....can I finish please? I wonder why there's communication problems  in this district when we can't even finish a sentence on the board." 

The next school board meeting is scheduled for September 16th. That's when the findings are expected to be made public. If the board addresses the findings it won't be until the meeting two weeks after that.

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