‘It lacked empathy’: School’s ice cream party Facebook post criticized

The social media post explained that not all students would be allowed to get ice cream, which angered many.
Published: Sep. 22, 2023 at 4:53 PM CDT
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LEBANON, Ohio (WXIX/Gray News) - An Ohio school district apologized after a social media post about Ice Cream Friday received backlash.

Donovan Elementary on Thursday posted to Facebook about the ice cream social planned for third and fourth graders.

The social media post explained that not all students would be allowed to get ice cream, which angered many.

“A student must have money on their account to purchase an ice cream,” Thursday’s post stated. “If a student has a negative balance, they will not be able to purchase an ice cream even if they bring their $1 for ice cream.

“Students are only allowed to purchase one ice cream and are not permitted to buy an ice cream for a friend.”

The post was shared more than 645 times.

“I checked the page out myself so that I could read all the comments and was just shocked at what I read and how many people were outraged,” said Julie, a parent of a third-grade student.

Naiyozcsia King, who owns Mz. Jade’s Soul Food restaurant in Middletown, saw the post and called the school because she wanted to help.

“So, I reached out to the school,” explained King. “I prayed before I reached out to the school, and I’m like, ‘Lord, let me talk to the right person because I know they’ve been getting thousands of calls.’”

Her prayer was answered when the school district allowed her to pay $411 to bring every student’s account up to date.

“I have been a parent that has had a balance with a school system before,” King said. “So immediately, and I didn’t have it then, but I have it now, to be a change. So, that’s why I did it because I was one of those parents before. So, I could relate.”

A school district spokesperson released a statement in response to apologize, saying the post was “poorly worded.”

“It lacked empathy and sensitivity,” they said in the statement. “The message fell short of our district values of building a reflective, responsible, and respectful community. The wording lacked empathy and sensitivity for students who have low or negative meal account balances.

The district said it works to provide school lunches to students by removing barriers and eliminating the stigma associated with a lunch assistance program.

“The Facebook post inadvertently sent the message that we would embarrass students or turn them away for an issue outside their control,” they said. “We do allow students to charge lunch because good nutrition is essential to learning, and children forget or lose their money. Every student at Donovan received an ice cream or other treat at lunch today.”

They also thanked people for donating funds to pay off student meal balances, and said the district was partnering with Neighborhood Bridges to offset negative lunch balances

King says the lunch account with the school is up more than $4,000, so the kids at Donovan have a lot of ice cream coming their way the rest of the school year.