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Boy covered in red marks when he returns home from school

A mother’s love

As she drove her son home from school, she fought back tears and clung a little too tight to the steering wheel. She didn’t want her son to see her like that.

After stepping through the front door, she turned and asked her son if she could see his arm. The boy looked down at his feet as he raised his arm. She could see what they had done to him, they would regret it!

Best school?


Tara Chavez wanted the best for her son, so she did extensive research before finding out what she thought was the best school she could afford – Desert Cove Elementary in Phoenix.

Cayden, her son, had a good heart and she wanted him to be in an environment that encouraged it. She felt that this school would have enough individual attention and that they would take good care of Cayden. It seemed like a great school.


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Tara was happy to enroll her son in school, she gave her the forms and she signed. Now their son was officially part of Desert Cove Elementary.

What she didn’t know, however, was that she would soon regret ever having her son enrolled after doing something that got her blood boiling. Soon after, other parents spoke to them and created controversy at Desert Cove Elementary.


Facebook / Tara Chavez

After a full tenure at Desert Cove Elementary, Cayden seemed as happy as possible, and this may make Tara even happier. But things would suddenly turn sour soon enough.

Cayden did his schoolwork extremely well. He also made many friends and liked his teachers. But soon Cayden’s parents would find out that they should have turned their attention to something else from the teachers.

Something was wrong


Like every other day, Tara picked up her son from school. But she knew immediately that something was wrong, Cayden didn’t have to say anything, his face told her everything she needed to know.

She saved the face and smiled at her son. She asked him how his day was while her thoughts went through her head. She had to find out that he was wrong.

A strange sign

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Cayden replied to his mother with a mumble, he said, “Fine” but she could tell he was anything but. She smiled again and asked sweetly if anything had happened at school. Cayden just looked out the window with no answer.

She could see that he didn’t want to talk about it. She knew her son well and gave him some space and knew that she could always bring it up later when her husband was home. But then she saw something on her son’s arm in the rearview mirror.

A mother’s intuition

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Tara had to see what that brand was. She tried to see it in the car, it looked like it might be dirt, but when she peered closer, she realized it was something much more sinister.

Then she connected the dots, Cayden was upset about the mark on his arm. Her intuition was on point and she would soon find out what it was.

Cool and composed


Tara’s mind raced with all sorts of theories. She didn’t want to make a scene now, even though her instinct as a mother told her to stop the car and take her son’s arm, she tried to look cool and relaxed.

She felt her grip the steering wheel too tightly and her eyes start to water. Cayden couldn’t see her like that. But whoever was responsible for this brand would regret it.

family meeting

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When they got home, Tara stopped Cayden from going to his room. She asked him to sit down at the table while she called for her husband. When her husband arrived, he playfully tousled Cayden’s hair and sat next to him.

Tara looked at her husband and then at Cayden. She asked him to let her see his arm. The boy raised his arm with a frown on his face. Tara could now see what had happened, what the school was responsible for.

A few questions


“I asked if he had a choice,” and he replied, “No, she just grabbed my wrist and put the stamp on,” the mother told reporters.

Now the father decided to take a look at his son’s arm. He could see ink, there were words, and he was trying to figure it out. Once he read the words he couldn’t believe what it was saying.

All capitals


Her husband immediately took a picture of Cayden’s arm. “He was screaming and crying all the time,” said Tara. “He was humiliated, didn’t even want me to take a picture of it.”

There were the words “LUNCH MONEY” in bold blue capital letters on her son’s arm. But what did that mean? And who did it?



Cayden explained that it was the midday lady. Apparently she had felt the need to publicly shame him in front of the entire school. The more his parents heard, the angrier they got.

The fact that the stamp made her son feel so embarrassed was the most worrying part. Why didn’t the school email her a reminder when her son’s account was running low? Annoyed, they posted this incident online, was that right?

Online help

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It wasn’t long before Tara’s post about the stamp online exploded. Hundreds of comments and approvals were quickly collected. And most of the parents supported him, saying that Tara’s anger was fully justified.

“What, couldn’t you send a note?” asked her friend. “You couldn’t think for two seconds about the numerous references to branding someone as stigma?” Shortly after the post went viral, Tara heard from them. What did they have to say for themselves?

They denied everything

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Of course, the representatives of the school denied everything. They pretended they had no idea what was really going on in their own school.

They were cornered by local media who asked for an interview and were under pressure to provide a statement on the incident. The outraged parents wanted answers. And all eyes were on the headmaster.



Desert Cove director Stacey Orest stated that cafeteria staff never intended to embarrass students with “reminder stamps” and that they should always “ask them if they want a stamp or a reminder slip.”


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But that answer wasn’t good enough for Tara or the other parents who were on her side. And it certainly wasn’t a good picture for the Desert Cove Elementary School.

Many parents decided to stand behind the family, saying that Tara’s reaction was fully justified. One thing was certain: they wanted the commemorative stamps to be gone.

School declaration


The following Monday the school had to make an official statement on the matter. Becky Kelbaugh, spokeswoman for the Paradise Valley Unified School District, tried to explain.

“The Desert Cove Elementary School administration and staff never intended to embarrass a student with the stamp,” she said. So what would you do about it?

No more stamps


She continued, “Students could choose between a letter or a reminder stamp. In the future, Desert Cove Elementary School will send a letter home informing parents that they have low credit at lunch. “

She told the Phoenix New Times that Desert Cove would discontinue “commemorative stamps” for low-midday accounts. But this isn’t the first time this has happened …

Similar incident


Jon Bivens’ son, a third grader attending Gardendale Elementary School, came home with a similar stamp on his arm. At first Jon didn’t think about it much. “I thought it would be a good job stamp,” he said.

But when Jon took a closer look at his son’s arm, his initial casualness quickly turned to anger.



Jon and his wife send their son to school with packed lunches, but allow him to occasionally buy treats from the school cafeteria.

What upset Jon most, however, was that his son had a positive balance in his cafeteria account at the end of the term. At the time of the offensive stamp, Jon’s son still had a balance of $ 1.38.

Rally for a future without a stamp!

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“They look after these children like cattle,” said the angry father. He also said that his son was “branded”. “If you start stamping a message on a child’s body instead of calling … that’s not okay,” he said in an interview.

Then he saw that it was a stamp that said, “I need money for lunch.” Jon was surprised when the school usually sent them a notification when his son’s account was running low.

“Branding” system


And as this “branding” of children and their public humiliation becomes more common in schools, parents become more open on this matter.

Joe continued, “It’s a form of bullying and shame for the kids.” What do you think? Are parents right to be indignant about this “branding” system in schools?



Desert Cove Elementary School is located in an affluent neighborhood and only 32% of students attending school there are eligible for discounted or free lunch.

It’s easy to see why students who are running out of accounts can feel very embarrassed and embarrassed when singled out in this way in front of their peers. Do you think that’s fair

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