Do not — do not — cross America’s grandmothers, especially when they have Facebook pages and aren’t afraid to use them.
Missy Fitzsimmons, the principal at Lincoln Elementary School in the small town of Grants Pass, Ore. failed to heed this sage advice. Consequently, as of sometime Wednesday, Fitzsimmons became perhaps the most vilified woman for miles in any direction.
Fitzsimmons provoked Laura Hoover, the grandmother of a six-year-old boy who attends Lincoln Elementary.
On her Facebook page, Hoover alleges that Fitzsimmons forced the first-grade boy to sit all by himself during lunch because he was tardy by one minute when he arrived to school in the morning — thanks to car trouble.
Just to rub it in, Hoover claims, the principal made the boy sit with a makeshift cardboard barrier right in his face while he ate in isolation in the cafeteria. Other kids could see him as he sat.
“This is my grandson, Hunter. He’s a little first grader,” Hoover narrates in the Facebook post. “His momma’s car sometimes doesn’t like to start right up. Sometimes he’s a couple minutes late to school. Yesterday, he was 1 minute late and this is what his momma discovered they do to punish him! They have done this to him 6 times for something that is out of this baby’s control! They make a mockery of him in front of the other students! The principal is responsible for this. His mom found him there, crying, and took him home for the day. Anyone want to help me flood this lady principal with calls telling her how inappropriate this is?”
As of late Thursday night, more than 26,000 Facebook users had liked Hoover’s post. And by “like,” they almost undoubtedly have meant “are furious about.” (However, some commenters have noted that the cruel, unusual punishment could have been avoided had the boy’s mother left for school a bit earlier.)
Presumably, a vast multitude of Facebook did, in fact, “flood this lady principal with calls” because by Thursday, John Higgins, superintendent of the local school district, released a statement.
Higgins described the first-grade boy’s involuntary lunchtime isolation as a response to “chronic tardiness/absenteeism,” according to local NBC affiliate KOBI-TV.
School district officials felt compelled to release a statement on the district website on Thursday as well.
“For the past twenty-four hours, there has been considerable general and social media attention regarding the Lincoln Elementary School Attendance/Tardy Catch-up Protocol,” the statement reads. “This afternoon, Principal Fitzsimmons was able to meet with both parents to discuss their concerns. We are pleased to report the meeting was productive. The parents’ concerns were politely discussed and, ultimately, the issues were resolved to the satisfaction of both the parents and the school.”
At the same time, the superintendent’s statement noted that the district is now “reviewing alternative approaches” for Lincoln Elementary that will avoid “any chance of adversely impacting a child which was never intended.”
According to the Lincoln Elementary webpages, Fitzsimmons, the principal, has overseen Lincoln Elementary for seven years. Before she became a principal, she was a middle school counselor.
She and her husband have two daughters, Fitzsimmons notes on the webpage dedicated to herself.
“We have many of the same parenting struggles as other parents, and can appreciate that being an involved parent is both exhausting and underappreciated!” she writes.