I've posted this a couple other places but here's a follow up to that picture/story
Nicole Garloff and son, Hunter, 6, are excited to try out a van given to the family one week after a photo of Hunter went viral on Facebook showing him segregated from his fellow students under Lincoln Elementary School's attendance detention policy. The Garloffs previously said car trouble was a primary reason Hunter was late for school numerous times. Timothy Bullard / Daily Courier GRANTS PASS Disciplined student has new ride to school By By Ruth Longoria Kingsland Grants Pass Daily Courier March 04, 2015 - 6:54 PM The family of a Grants Pass first-grader at the center of a school discipline controversy that made headlines around the country got a pleasant surprise Tuesday: a new ride to school.
Nicole Garloff and Mark Cmelo arrived with their two children, 6-year-old Hunter and 3-year-old Savannah, at Kelly's Automotive Service early Tuesday evening. They may have wondered why a swarm of local news media stood out front of the business when they showed up to discuss options for fixing their Dodge Durango.
Cmelo said they were "blown away" to find they'd been given a 2001 Chrysler Town & Country minivan, by caring community members, since the Durango was deemed irreparable.
"It's just amazing. We're really grateful," Garloff said, as she loaded Savannah and Hunter into the new van.
"All we ever wanted is for the school to change its policy," Cmelo said. "We thought the best way to do that was to take our story to the public."
The donation of the minivan was just the latest development in the controversy, which began a week ago after a photo of Hunter serving detention for being tardy went viral on Facebook. Hunter, a first-grader at Lincoln Elementary School, received tardy detention on Feb. 24 at a partitioned-off table in the lunchroom, in view of classmates who were eating their lunch. The detention followed his fourth time being late to school this semester. Under school policy, a note warning he would get detention was sent to his parents after the third tardy.
The punishment went viral after Garloff and the boy's grandmother, Laura Hoover, posted a photo on Facebook showing Hunter sitting alone behind the cardboard shield during lunch. The incident incited angry calls and emails to the school, district headquarters and the news media as people across the country "shared" the photo thousands of times.
Garloff has cited car trouble as one of the reasons why she has been late in getting her son to school. She has also said health problems preclude her from walking her son to school. The family lives about four blocks from Lincoln, too close for eligibility to ride the bus.
After Medford radio talk show host Bill Meyer saw the photo, he called Lisa McClease-Kelly, who co-owns Kelly's Automotive Service, and asked her if she'd be willing to help the family.
"All I did was say 'yes,' and the ball started rolling," McClease-Kelly said.
Her husband, Dave Kelly, called Star Collision Centers, which towed Garloff's Dodge Durango to Kelly's, where the automotive service promised up to $500 in repairs.
However, mechanics at Kelly's found the Durango to be "in pretty rough shape," said Curtis Barnes, manager at Kelly's Automotive in Grants Pass.
That's when even more folks from surrounding cities became involved.
David Stepp, a supervisor at Rapid Repo & Collections in Medford, told the Daily Courier he heard about the little boy, and he and his wife looked up the incident on Facebook.
"I was so shocked and heartbroken when I saw the photo. I actually lost sleep over it," he said. "A picture says a thousand words and though you couldn't see the little guy's face in the picture, his posture told it all, and that's what really bothered me."
He contacted Kelly's, which let him know about Garloff's vehicle, which had a blown engine.
Stepp talked with his boss, Ronald Sherrard, the owner of Rapid Repo, about a vehicle the business owned, which needed some minor repairs.
The business donated the Chrysler minivan. After checking out the van and making repairs, the vehicle was presented to Garloff and Cmelo on Tuesday afternoon.
Kelly's Automotive also has pledged to provide the family a year's worth of free oil changes and $100 in gas. Advanced Glass in Grants Pass supplied a new windshield for the van, and Advantage Tire of Medford donated two new front tires.
Other community members also gave money toward repairs to the van, McClease-Kelly said.
Meanwhile, Grants Pass schools Superintendent John Higgins said calls to district headquarters have begun to wane but are still going strong at Lincoln Elementary.
Higgins said there are two categories of people contacting the school: "Local, more constructive and supportive people, and those outside the area," whom he said tend to call names and use profanity.
The reaction has been so intense that officers have been stationed outside the school for several days. The large volume of phone calls has been detrimental to educational activities at the school, Higgins said, adding that the district really doesn't need more input.
"We've heard just about every view we can hear," he said.
Although the district connected with Garloff and Cmelo to resolve the issue last Thursday, and by Friday had a new detention policy in place, there are still some folks calling for the resignation or firing of Lincoln Principal Missy Fitzsimmons. Students will now serve detention in a separate room, away from the prying eyes of classmates eating lunch.
Citing the district's human resources policies, Higgins would not comment about any action being considered against Fitzsimmons. However, he said, the district is going through it's normal protocol and investigating, evaluating employees, and gathering information that includes the school's ratings, culture, and accomplishments.
"Lincoln is accomplishing amazing things," he said.