Eastern Idaho School Officials: Fired Lunch Lady Didn't Respond to Rehire Offer 

click to enlarge IRVING MIDDLE SCHOOL
  • Irving Middle School

Officials in an eastern Idaho school district say they need to move on after a non-response from a former lunch lady who was fired and then offered her job back.

Dalene Bowden was fired from her job as a cafeteria worker at Pocatello's Irving Middle School in late December. Bowden insisted that all she was trying to do was give a hot lunch to a hungry student who couldn't pay for the meal. But the Pocatello/Chubbuck School District fired her for the "theft of school district property and inaccurate transactions when ordering, receiving and serving food."

Soon enough, Bowden's story caught national media attention. But with media attention came scrutiny. The Associated Press reported Dec. 24 that Bowden had been previously convicted of theft charges in 2013 and had been ordered to pay restitution after being caught, via surveillance video, of removing cash from an employer's cash register and putting the money in her tip jar in 2012.

Nonetheless, the school district decided to offer Bowden her job back with the district, sending out a long press release on Christmas Eve, stating, "In the spirit of the holidays, Superintendent [Doug] Howell advises that the District has been in communication with Ms. Bowden extending an opportunity for her to return to employment with the the District [sic]."

Now, KIDK-TV reports that Bowden had until Jan. 4 at noon to get back to the school district with her answer and, according to school officials, "She never responded."

At a Jan. 5 press conference, school officials outlined the district's lunch policy.

"Students can either use up to a negative $11 balance, pay with cash, or be given a nutritious snack by a food service supervisor," said School District Doug Howell. "We work proactively everyday through the free or reduced lunch program, through the backpack program of Idaho Food Bank, and through hundreds of drives through our school during the school year."

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