Atascadero student arrested for messing with lunch lady’s car

October 18, 2019


Three days before Governor Gavin Newson signed a bill banning schools from shaming children for not having lunch money, police officers arrested a 13-year-old 8th grade student at Atascadero Middle School for pouring grape juice in the lunch lady’s gas tank. [Cal Coast Times]

On Oct. 9, officers arrested the student for felony vandalism and booked him into juvenile hall in San Luis Obispo. Officers are considering adding an additional charge of tampering with a vehicle.

While it is unclear why the student vandalized the lunch lady’s car, Atascadero schools have for years either denied lunches or given a lower quality meal to children without lunch money.

According to district staff, in the past, children who were unable to pay for a lunch were permitted to eat from the “salad bar.” It has six containers, four of which were generally filled with vegetables such as lettuce, carrots, cucumber and tomatoes. The other two bins hold fruit.

“We certainly do not want children to go hungry,” said Stacey Phillips, secretary to Superintendent Thomas Butler. “There is never a reason to shame a student.”

However, multiple students said the lunch crew does not offer students without money a choice of the salad bar, instead telling the students to leave the line.

On Oct. 12, Newsom signed The Child Hunger Prevention and Fair Treatment Act, which requires public schools “to ensure that a pupil whose parent or guardian has unpaid school meal fees is not shamed, treated differently, or served a meal that differs from what a pupil whose parent or guardian does not have unpaid school meal fees would receive under that local educational agency’s policy.”

Starting this week, Atascadero schools are allowing children without money to charge their lunch, and the school will send a bill to the parents.

“This will cost the district a couple thousand dollars a year,” Phillips said.

On Oct. 17, the student who was arrested for vandalism returned to school.


Under Governor Newsom’s new legislation no student can be suspended for any reason, including assaulting other students or staff.


Wrong! Good god man, lets share the truth not the fear mongering BS based on the hate of the left. okay?

Students can no longer be suspended for “Willful Defiance”, that’s it! Assault is not only a suspendable act it is still reason for expulsion, especially on a teacher/staff!

And I thought Trump the Pervert was the biggest purveyor lies and misdirection, shit! He ain’t got nothin’ on the Trumpster Dumpster’s overpopulating this sight…


While it is unclear why the student vandalized the lunch lady’s car,

Good gawd, commenters. Please don’t EVER let facts get in the way of a good head of self-righteous steam.

The kid is a shit-apple for vandalizing someone’s property. Period.

General lunch program funding/enforcing issues are separate from the root of this news article and it’s unfortunate that CCN used it as the fuse to create a flame-thrower.

The kid vandalized personal property. The kid, and it’s parents, need a dose of legal accountability, not a strawman to grasp at.


Yea, the kid should be held accountable, but to a felony, at 13?

Luckily for this kid, this adolescent child, not some shit-apple (a term when used against or in regards to a child is as shaming as it gets! Call my kid that and we’d be toe-to-toe in a heart beat, butt-head!) is being overcharged by the police to scare the bejesus out of him, and hopefully his parents!

This offense is considered a “wobblier”, where it can be charged either as a felony or misdemeanor, and that is strictly up to the prosecutor. At 13 and with no prior record he’ll get an offer of a misdemeanor with restitution (that the parents will saddled with) and will probably take it.


Most local school districts encourage ALL families to apply for free & reduced lunches. Outside of that, I still feel no child should go hungry and the District should not deny a child a meal. Between being a parent of two school aged kids and also working behind the scenes with PTO for many years, I can tell you there are many kids whose only meals are at school (not at night or weekends…). They have holes in their shoes, no socks, no jackets, are not bathed and more. Often, the school secretaries are the bridge between PTO funds and these kids/their families ability to better thrive at school.

The stigma of “mean lunch ladies” has sadly proven true for my kids. More than one lunch staffer (and more than once) has threatened both of my kiddos with “moldy cheese sandwiches” for forgetting their lunch or their lunch number. Way to help kids feel safe. *sigh*

No, don’t mess with the lunch person’s car…never. It’s wrong. But I do feel the District can do more to support students during their day there.

As for abuse, the food really isn’t that appealing…a high percentage of students bring their lunch and at one of the schools my youngest attends, the teachers and parents provide snacks for every school day. We’re trying to educate our future. Yes, we need to feed them too.


Schools are no longer about education. For many they are daycare, replacing parents, expensively yet unsuccessfully, from elementary school, to middle school (be sure to vandalize your lunch lady’s car!) to high school. then continuation school, named to one think the town has a second high school, to community school (teacher is an 8-3 M-F probation officer), also recently named to make one think the town has a third high school. In SLO, SLO Continuation High School, an amalgamation of modular buildings and chain link fence is called “Pacific Beach High School”, in a neighborhood that will need more and more cops to control.


Pacific Beach has 53 students and has a restricted enrollment policy, how the hell does that translate into a need for more police “control” in that neighborhood?

That school gives student who have been, by their own actions, expelled from other schools another chance, is that such a bad thing, especially considering education is proven as deterrent to reoffending?

Pacific Beach also graduates over 70% of their students, not bad for a bunch of “incorrigibles” don’t you think?

Oh well, right? Replace it with another underachieving “regular” high school without the unsightly modular buildings and surround by one of those infernal chain-link fences and it’s all good, right?

Just like the typical current resident of SLO, more concerend about appearance than performance and need….


Actually, 70% is pretty bad. And with the bar so low, much of the 70% will continue as life-long, multi-generational, public assistance beneficiaries.


“…70% will continue as life-long, multi-generational, public assistance beneficiaries.”

Hey, with your ability to tell the future can you give me the results of the NBA Championship this year? Or how ’bout who wins the Super Bowl? And I bet you’re rich as hell, or don’t you gamble?

70% from kids all of you would otherwise deny an education to isn’t bad, isn’t bad at all! But I bet you’d brag like hell if it was 0%, right? Provin’ your fear mongering BS is true, right?

Can’t win, let alone compete, with those who see the down side of every frickin’ thing…


Feel free to volunteer and help…it’s definitely one way to make a dent in a broken system.


I recall this was the same situation over thirty-five years ago? I wonder if kale, skinny jeans, and participation trophies are softening this generation of kids. Or was I just a insensitive #*&% and clueless kid? Must be the latter.


Always be nice to your lunch lady‍.


God forbid food stamps actually be used to provide food, and the amounts are adequate, my well-off mother confirmed this with a matching budget. But we all know from being in line at Foods 4 Less how efficaciously that is spent, 100% junk food. Now schools are the primary providers, and not just lunch on school days; breakfast, dinner and summer feeding programs in Santa Maria. I carried a lunch box to school prepared by my Mom and ate meals prepared by my parents at all other times. Probably a shaming crime today.


The amounts are adequate? Where? And your “well off” mother matched her “budget” in food stamps? How’s that?

My SSDI payment each month is just above the poverty line, I pay $290.00 a month in rent (and that includes utilities), my phone bill is $55.00 a month, my medical co-pays and medication costs me about $75.00 a month, and if I was to apply for food stamps I would qualify for $16.00 a month. So if your mother is “well off” and gets her budget “matched”, whatever that means, in food stamps she’d have to have a ton of folks that are dependent on her for support or there other factors involved (criminal?)

Your contention that 100% of food stamps are spent on “junk food” is pure and simple ignorant hyperbole, not only in your local Food 4 Less, but nationwide. The Department of Agriculture actually tracks the types of purchases made and they report only about 4% of of the 2018 food stamp budget was spent on what is considered “junk food”. You know, if you were to stand in the check-out line with a health food junkie, a vegetarian or vegan they’d see what you buy outside of their preferences as “junk food”, right?

I don’t like the fact that folks take advantage of this program, but I’m more concerned with the crime involved with it rather than what someone buys. But!!! When you consider that 40% of the food produced in this country ends up land fills what does it matter? When folks would have more of that food thrown away rather than feeding folks it just goes to show you just how self centered and selfish this country is becoming.

Oh! In California because I receive SSDI benefits I wouldn’t qualify for food stamps, period! Nor do those who receive SSI benefits, no matter the amount they’re paid! Even if they’er homeless!


The USDA has no way to track purchases. And my mother participated in a university study to determine if food stamp allotments were adequate. They were. I complained a little about the rice and beans until my mom pointed out that the Caribbean baseball sluggers my brother and I admired grew up on just such a diet. And in any case why are schools assuming basic parental responsibilities, like feeding your children? Can’t feed ’em? Don’t breed ’em!


It started in 2015…

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expected to release studies this spring that will provide more information about the types of foods purchased by people on food stamps and whether that information can be tracked on a national level”.

“Pressure for that type of detailed information has been building across the political spectrum as the program ballooned in cost during the Great Recession. The concern among public health advocates and fiscal conservatives is that a substantial amount of taxpayer money is spent on soda and junk food.” – USA Today, 2015

“Though people like to complain about food stamp recipients using their benefits for unhealthy things like soda and extravagances like crab legs, new data show they buy basically the same food as everyone else.

Households participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and households that didn’t get benefits both bought a lot of junk food, according to a new study commissioned by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program – Huffington Post, 2016

I could go on but I won’t bore you with facts.

Schools shouldn’t be assuming parenting responsibilities, but in the absences of that responsibility, for what ever reason, I don’t think it’s irresponsible to pick up the slack in the form of a meal, do you. You’re not punishing the parent, the child is the one being punished with your reasoning.

I agree with your sentiment on not being able to support those you give birth to, but again how do you justify punishing the child, especially not feeding one over the mistake(s) of the parent? Would you condone that even to the death of a child from malnutrition or starvation? .


Just one more point here obispan, then I’ll leave it alone…

I don’t know the study your mother was involved with, or the year it was done or by what university, but if you look at current studies you’ll find the overwhelming opinion, both from private sector study groups, government agencies and universities, is that food stamp allotments are not adequate to the needs of those who get SNAP benefits.

Read them yourself as to how and why they came to that conclusion….


I could eat on a dollar a day, and I probably should, though I don’t (:


Isn’t he charged with felony vandalism because he tampered with a vehicle.

Can’t charge him for 2 crimes for 1 crime.

And besides Dan Dow needs to prove that grape juice is not good for a car because I read on the internet that it is the new super fuel so it must be true.


The police can charge you with multiple counts in the commission of the same crime, it’s up to the prosecutor to wade through the bullshit and decide what the charge, or charges, should or shouldn’t be.

But yes this kid probably can be charged with two different crimes; he had to tamper with the vehicle, i.e.opening the gas cap (especially if it was of the locked variety) to be able to vandalize it, right?

Like I said before, this looks like a clear case of overcharging a kid to scare the bejesus out of him as a possible deterrent to this type of nonsense in the future. Let’s hope so, huh?


The bigger story here is the school district refusing to feed students who do not have money for lunch and this is true for the district’s 1st through 12th grades. Low-income families apply for free or reduced priced lunches so those aren’t the students being refused food. It doesn’t matter what your income level, NO student should be refused lunch because they do not have money. I know for a fact that in the past, Atascadero Unified has offered graham crackers to students who did not have lunch money. And to offer a student food different than the other students are receiving makes it pretty visible that the student does not have money to buy a lunch, sounds and looks like discrimination/humiliation. And the worst part, the district’s food is poor quality and absolutely disgusting. Shame on schools who do not provide a substantial lunch to a student who does not have money for whatever the reason might be.


The shame belongs with the parents whose, budget and behavior that when examined will lead to finding, funds which are being misused and mis-spent.

Teachers are smart enough and close enough to the student to be in the know on this task.

Unfortunately, “management” is not and therefore clueless as to the actual basis for students bit having funds to buy a tool lunch.

Only when citizens drill down hard on every beaurocracy will the emotions be moderated as truth is edposed.

Till then everyone, save the commonsense thinking citizen, will continue to clutch their pearls and wring their hands about symptoms instead of addressing the causes.

Public schools misuse and mis-spend as a matter of fact, no joke.


I actually agree in theory that no kid should go without lunch. However, this opens the system up to so much abuse: I can see many parents just tell their kids to go to school with no money so they can get their free lunch.


That’s exactly what’s going to happen. What’s going to happen when the cafeteria is replaced by vending machines?


Atascadero high school is actually pretty close to that. Vending machine every 10 feet. And sell more candy than your local gas station.


The bigger story here is the school district refusing to feed students

No, the ACTUAL story here is that a human vandalized another human’s personal property.

It’s called *accountability* and this little shit-apple needs to be accountable for their actions, not given made-with-innuendo- EXCUSES for its illegal behavior.

FOCUS people. It’s not that hard if you know that words have meaning, despite the news sources deflecting you from the crux of the article.


Banning schools from shaming?….are you sure this is the United States Of America?….


Yea, it is the United States of America, not the Untied Sates of Shame!

Everyone’s inalienable rights to Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness is in direct conflict with shaming, as it hinders all three of those conditions set forth in the fist few lines of our Constitution; it makes the “shamer” more than equal to those he or she shames. Get that?!

Evidently you’ve never felt the sting of shame in your life, I have. Or had the support behind you to minimize it when it did happen, I didn’t.

It started at the age of five with me, when it was revealed to my kindergarten classmates that I was adopted (it probably started earlier than that, probably the day I was taken from my biological mother at the age of four due to her abuse) It was done in good faith (I think) to “educate” my classmates but turned into years of shaming, being picked on physically (until I figured out that bloodying some idiots nose usually shut everyone up!) and being alienated from my piers. It definitely helped shape so many parts of my life it isn’t funny.

I still suffer from a lack of self confidence, always feeling the need to be right, always threatened by what I perceive as those who are “better than me” and hold onto those I love so tightly that it strangles any hope of a long term relationship.

“When children are emotionally or psychologically abused, they grow up feeling unloved, unwanted, and fearful. Normal development is interrupted and it sends the wounded child into exile. This is when negative internal messages are developed and why we have so many adults today feeling “not good enough.”

“Shaming and humiliation cause fear in children. This fear does not go away when they grow up. It becomes a barrier for a healthy emotional life and is difficult to eradicate. If these same children become parents, the possibility also exists that the fear and negativity can be unwittingly passed through the generations.” – Psychology Today

And if you think the photo of that sign attached to this article is funny, or god forbid acceptable and appropriate? Reconsider, please!