Monday was chicken nugget day in the cafeteria at Tennessee’s Farragut High School.
“You can’t go wrong with nugget day at high school,” senior Carson Koller told me. “The nuggets were great.”
Carson, an Eagle Scout, was so hungry he got six nuggets instead of five.
The 17-year-old had no idea that extra nugget would result in a trip to the principal’s office and make headlines across the fruited plain.
Carson, who has a spotless academic record, was accused of stealing and was suspended for “theft of property” – all over a single chicken nugget that he had actually paid for.
“I got a text from my son saying he had been suspended for one day for taking a chicken nugget,” Carson’s mom, Carrie Koller Waller told me. “I honestly didn’t believe it.”
She immediately checked online and discovered that not only had he paid for the extra nugget, but the school had added an additional charge.
Mrs. Waller alerted her Facebook friends to the Great Nugget Controversy of 2016 and posted a screenshot showing her son was no thief.
“My Eagle Scout, Captain of the drumline, all-around hardworking and well-rounded teenager just got suspended from a day of school (and after school band practice) for taking an extra chicken nugget from the lunch line. Maybe I'm missing parts of the story, but in the past, the cafeteria has never hesitated to charge Carson double for the amount of food he's taken/eaten. Today he gets taken to the Principal's office for this. When I questioned the need to suspend over such an offense, I was told that they have to be consistent with people who take extra food and that somewhere in the Knox County Handbook there is something to this effect. I almost don't have words here.....but aren't there kids who get free lunches? Does my son really deserve suspension over hunger, especially when they have the ability to charge his lunch account for the items (which they did!!!!)? How is it theft if he paid for it??? It's food. FOOD!!! Not weapons. Not drugs. Not alcohol. Not cheating on a test. Not inappropriate clothing or profanity. Not fighting. Not calling in threats. Not vandalism. I am shaking my head over this and not sure what to do....laugh, punish, argue, dress him up as a nugget bandit, or let it go. Does the suspension matter on his records? #justnow#cantmakethisstuffup #mylife”
“I didn’t think I’d ever be talking to the principal over a chicken nugget,” she told me. “That’s not something a parent ever imagines.”
After the school district investigated Mrs. Waller’s evidence they realized they had made a terrible mistake.
“Principal Siebe reviewed the matter and found there was some misinformation about the details, and after further investigation, corrected the situation,” a district spokesperson told USA Today.
Carson was allowed to return to school and his official school record was expunged of the Great Nugget Controversy of 2016.
“My main concern was they suspended him so quickly before getting all the facts,” Mrs. Waller said. “But I’m happy with how the principal reacted.”
By the way, Carson was charged $2.75 for that extra nugget. That’s a mighty pricey nugget, folks.
It is unfortunate the school not only overreacted, but falsely accused a good teenager of wrongdoing. But they made things right and they deserve credit for that.
And Carson deserves a little credit, too.
So I reached out to the local Chick-fil-A in Knoxville and arranged to provide Carson with a gift card -- so he can eat as many chicken nuggets as his heart desires.
“Sounds like I’m going to have to treat my principal to lunch – on me,” Carson said.
That’s one mighty good kid, America.