School district rescinds job offer for fired cafeteria worker after student's parents accuse her of cover-up

The New Hampshire district says it has “commissioned an independent administrative review of all facts and circumstances surrounding this incident.”
Image: Bonnie Kimball, a lunch lady in New Hampshire, was fired after giving a student lunch when he was unable to pay.
Bonnie Kimball, a lunch lady in New Hampshire, was fired after giving a student lunch when he was unable to pay.NBC Boston

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By Minyvonne Burke

A New Hampshire school district said it no longer wants a fired high school cafeteria worker to get her job back after a student's parent said she tried to cover-up giving the boy free food.

The lunchroom worker, Bonnie Kimball, said she was fired in March by Cafe Services — a food vendor under contract with Mascoma Valley Regional School District — because she gave a Mascoma Valley Regional High School student free lunch when he did not have money to pay for food.

After Kimball's firing gained national attention last week, Mascoma Valley Regional School District demanded that Cafe Services re-hire her and give her back pay for time lost.

The story, however, took a surprising turn when the president of Fresh Picks Cafe, the division of Cafe Services that managed Kimball, accused her of being "dishonest." Brian Stone said she let the student take a la cart items without paying, which goes against school policy, and also said the student had not been charged for food in the past three months.

Now, the student's mother is weighing in on the controversy and told the New Hampshire Union Leader that Kimball sent her son Facebook messages trying to cover-up her giving him the free food.

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In a March 28 message, Kimball allegedly told the teenager to pay his lunch tab because her manager saw her give the student food and would be there again the next day.

“We will prolly get written up, but we can make it look good. Lol,” Kimball allegedly wrote in the message.

In another message after she was fired, Kimball allegedly asked the student if he and his classmates could contact a reporter. A recent message showed that Kimball allegedly bragged to the student about going on a television program and meeting famous people.

NBC News has not been able to verify the authenticity of the Facebook messages, and attempts to reach Kimball were not successful.

The student's mother also said the perception of Kimball acting charitably towards a child in need was incorrect, saying her son is well taken care of and was supposed to pack his own lunch for school. “She did not get fired for feeding a hungry child,” the mother told the New Hampshire Union Leader.

In a statement on Tuesday, Mascoma Valley Regional School District superintendent Amanda Isabelle said in light of the mother's claims "the school district is rescinding its demand that the employee be rehired."

"The district has commissioned an independent administrative review of all facts and circumstances surrounding this incident, with a report to be furnished to the superintendent, provided to the school board and ultimately released to the public," the statement added.

Stone also issued a statement on Tuesday saying he appreciates the student's mother coming forward and the school district rescinding its call for Kimball to be rehired.

“It was clear the employee violated the existing policies of the school and Café Services and we will continue to work with Superintendent Isabelle, the school administration and the auditor on policies to be sure this doesn’t happen again," he said.