Cripple Creek School Kids Going Hungry

Parents may try to recall school board

An apparent school lunch controversy at the Cripple Creek/Victor RE-1 School District may prompt a petition drive, aimed at removing the local school board.

“We are in the process of getting our first petition created to recall the entire school board,” said  Melanie Trujillo, a parent of the district, according to a television report aired last week. “We’re backed, we’re funded, we just need parents’ support,” she added.

However, some district leader say too much is being made out of the latest report regarding elementary kids not getting fed properly, and that school officials have taken proper action to correct the situation.

Last week, a television report, aired on KOAA Channel 5 News, had social media outlets buzzing with comments and questions. As a result, local district leaders are being asked to do some serious explaining regarding their lunch policies.  

According to the report, a number of parents are upset over missing lunches at a Cripple Creek elementary school. This led to the firing of the director of food services at the school.

Parents contend the director intentionally didn’t order enough hot meals for students. As a result, the staff had to find last-minute alternatives.

“It’s ridiculous and it’s child abuse,” said Melanie Trujillo, in a television interview. Her son Jackson is a 1st grader at Cresson Elementary School. “These kids have gone without lunch more than once, more than twice, more than three times this year.”

Trujillo is also irked by the lack of action taken by the school board to address the issue, since the problem was brought to their attention in early September. Other parents share her concerns. They say that as many as 150 kids could be affected by the food shortage.  

The food is reportedly prepared across the street at the high school.

“They let someone be in charge of feeding my kids and they didn’t. I’m sending my kid to school trusting that his basic needs are being met and they’re not,” added Trujillo

The food services director, Robin Crippen, was fired last week.

District superintendent, Leslie Lindauer, stated that a prompt personnel change was made to address the issue. “That was kind of the last straw,” said Lindauer, according to the KOAA report, regarding the firing of Crippen over the latest incident. “We don’t want any child to go without food. It’s a very important thing. We know very well that a child that’s hungry is not going to be a child that learns.”

At the same time, he maintained that no student was refused a meal. Instead, he argued that his staff merely had to come up with some alternatives. District leaders are mulling future plans to include buying an oven to prepare more meals inside of the elementary school. They are also looking at implementing morning and afternoon snack programs.

The timing of the lunch controversy, though, couldn’t have been worse. The plight of local school kids in the RE-1 District has been the focus of many community forums, including a recent decision by city leaders to not allow for recreational marijuana within the limits of Cripple Creek. The financial and family-related problems that many kids are undergoing in the district were cited as key reasons for not opening the door for retail marijuana by school officials. The issue almost brought more attention to the woes of many school kids in the district than the legalities of retail cannabis.

In past studies, many kids in the Cripple Creek/Victor district have encountered bouts of homelessness and periods of not receiving enough food. The district also has a serious problem with the transitional state of many families.  In addition, the school board has been under fire at times during the last few years.

Recall efforts have been discussed in the past, but have never moved forward.