An Iowa school principal is facing community backlash after he confiscated a teacher’s supply of pizzas meant to reward students for good behavior and academic performance.
The reason? “Fairness.”
According to the Des Moines Register, in a letter to parents, Brody Middle School Principal Thomas Hoffman explained that this fairness “applies to everything from the chances they have to learn in the classroom to rewards and recognitions by our teachers and staff.”
In other words, if some kids get something, all of them have to get it.
“However,” Hoffman’s letter continued, “I do want to apologize for being overly strict in applying that standard today when it came to one of our classrooms. Most of all, I want to apologize for disappointing any of our students and punishing them.”
Parent Neil Erickson, whose son was in the class, wrote on Facebook that Hoffman’s actions even brought the teacher to tears:
A district spokesman said no student missed out on being fed that day despite the pizza confiscation, and that every student was “given a cookie break to celebrate their achievements before Christmas break.”
In an interview Friday, Hoffman said the school typically holds pizza parties in the its library so that children who cannot eat pizza for religious or dietary reasons can access other food from the nearby cafeteria. That way, they can eat with other children and not be left out.
But the teacher and Hoffman didn’t discuss the timing of the pizza party, and the library wasn’t available that Thursday for the seventh-graders.
“I just regret that it became an ugly, big, huge thing,” he said. “I didn’t communicate well enough when they wanted to do it. … I didn’t spend enough time to make clear and to amplify the message.”
Hoffman said everyone was trying to act in the best interests of all the students at the school.
“But I disappointed the teacher and the students and for that I take full responsibility,” he said.
In an age when all sorts of student misbehavior is overlooked, no wonder this story sticks out like a sore thumb. At the very least, Hoffman could have just let the party go on, and later on discussed the matter with the teacher.
For what it’s worth, in my teaching days I routinely held pizza parties for my marking period “top performers.” They never created a controversy.