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Nugget-gate teacher suspended indefinitely

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Caroline May
Political Reporter

The Hoke County, N.C. teacher who made headlines for swapping a preschool student’s homemade lunch with chicken nuggets has been suspended indefinitely.

In a letter to parents dated Feb. 28 and recently obtained by the Carolina Journal, Hoke County Schools Assistant Superintendent Bob Barnes wrote that a substitute teacher would be taking over the class until there is a “resolution to this issue.”

“As I am sure you are aware, we recently experienced an unfortunate situation where a failure to follow district policy resulted in the substitution of a Pre-K student’s lunch at West Hoke Elementary School,” the letter reads. “This letter is to inform you that Ms. Emma Thomas will be a substitute in [your child’s] classroom until we can bring resolution to this issue. We are pleased that [your child] is enrolled in our Pre-K program and we are confident that Ms. Thomas will continue to provide [him or her] with a very positive educational experience.”

A firestorm erupted last month when reports came out that a state employee inspecting homemade lunches determined that the meal a 4-year-old’s mother had made, which reportedly contained a turkey sandwich, a banana, apple juice and potato chips, “did not meet U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines.”

The now-suspended teacher replaced the lunch with a cafeteria tray of chicken nuggets, a sweet potato and bread.

Bruce Alexander, director of communications and governmental affairs with the USDA, told WGHP FOX8 that the state employee inspecting the meals 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.

While Barnes noted in his letter that the employee’s office violated “district policy,” the Carolina Journal reports that state officials that deal with meal monitoring have said that the situation was kosher under state policy.

According to the mother of the 4-year-old, the teacher is not to blame, but rather the government’s inspection policy, which questions the judgement of the parents.

Barnes did not respond to The Daily Caller’s requests for comment.

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