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Hoke County teacher suspended over chicken nugget incident

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RALEIGH, N.C. — A teacher at a preschool in Hoke County who was supervising a classroom when a 4-year-old girl’s homemade lunch was supplemented with a cafeteria tray of chicken nuggets has been suspended indefinitely, according to a report by the Carolina Journal.

The Journal reports that parents of children enrolled in the Pre-K program at West Hoke Elementary School received a letter from school district assistant superintendent Bob Barnes dated Feb. 28.  In the letter, Barnes says the substitute would take over the classroom “until we can bring resolution to this issue.”

Barnes said the reason for the suspension is that the teacher somehow violated district policy, although officials have denied that the incident went against regulations.

The Journal reports the preschooler’s mother said in an email to N.C. Representative G.L. Pridgen that she doesn’t wish any blame or punishment upon the teacher.

The chicken nugget furor began when the Journal first reported that the preschooler’s homemade lunch — which consisted of a turkey and cheese sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips — was deemed unsatisfactory by a state employee who was inspecting lunches in the More at Four classroom.

USDA officials told FOX8 the student’s meal was supplemented with a full cafeteria tray, but the mother was never charged a fee.

Bruce Alexander, director of communications and governmental affairs with the USDA, said Wednesday the person inspecting lunches was a “North Carolina Education staff member conducting a review of the child care center.”

“A teacher apparently was nervous during this state review and mishandled the situation,” Alexander said.

The review, which took place on Jan. 30, was part of the state’s ‘Star Rated’ licensing program, Alexander said.  The program is designed to provide parents with a rating of child care centers across the state, including the nutritional content of the meals consumed by children.

The girl reportedly returned home without eating any of her homemade lunch and told her mother she ate only three chicken nuggets for lunch.  The mother was also reportedly given a note from the school explaining the incident.


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