Dad upset over school's punishment

April 21, 2010 4:45:19 AM PDT
Parents are angry over a punishment at an area middle school. A father says his child didn't get a proper lunch, just to teach him a lesson. Dennis Sowell is mad and determined.

"I don't put up with this," he said. "They have to leave the profession."

He is calling for the end of careers and all because of a less than appetizing lunch.

"That meal is illegal to serve to a death row inmate," Sowell said.

Sowell says his 12-year-old son, a sixth grader at Cleveland Middle School, was assigned to in-school suspension for missing 30 minutes of class last month.

As part of the punishment, he wasn't allowed the usual cafeteria food for lunch.

Instead, the school gave him white bread, cheese and milk.

"You don't withhold food as punishment," Sowell said. "It has nothing to do with the quantity of the meal; it has to do with they violated the statutes, they violated the trust, they violated state and federal rules."

In fact, according to the Texas Department of Agriculture Regulations for school lunches, in-school suspension students must have equal access to food service. The secretary of state's administrative code says fruits and or vegetables must be offered daily.

Sowell says the school is in violation and goes even farther.

"That is child abuse top to bottom," he said.

Cleveland ISD's Superintendent Kerry Cowart confirms the school had been serving the sparse lunch to students as part of their discipline since the beginning of the school year.

While Cowart doesn't think the administrators did anything wrong, they aren't doing it anymore. ISS students now have access to the same lunch as everyone else.

Case closed, but not for Sowell.

"The only discipline is the license leaves the wall, they leave the profession" he said.

A Texas Department of Agriculture spokeswoman tells ABC13 that the agency received a complaint, and they investigated it, and that's why the school changed its ways.

The agriculture department is satisfied with that corrective action, but Sowell says he plans to file another complaint with the Texas Education Agency.


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