The Los Angeles Unified School District will decide whether to continue a classroom meal program that's drawn criticism from teachers.NBC4's Tena Ezzeddine reports on "Today in LA." This clip is from "Today in LA" on May 14, 2013.
The LAUSD board voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon to continue the controversial "Breakfast in the Classroom" program that received backlash from teachers recently.
The Board of Education voted unanimously in support of a program that some critics said cut into teaching time and caused a mess in classrooms.
"Every program ... has problems with its implementation,'' board member Steve Zimmer said. "That's what happens. It's not breaking news. Our obligation is to work out the problems. That's what we do.''
The program had divided two powerful unions within the Los Angeles Unified School District, with teachers opposed and non-classroom employees saying the breakfast provide jobs. Parents backed the program alongside the members of the Service Employees Union International, who had argued children would not go to school cafeterias to get breakfast.
United Teachers Los Angeles opposed the “Breakfast in the Classroom” program, claiming it claims cuts precious learning time from class and serves up expired food, like moldy muffins, rotten oranges, and spoiled milk to kids.
But no teachers came to the podium to speak publicly against the program during Tuesday's meeting. After the board vote, red-shirted UTLA members protesting outside the district's downtown LA headquarters called instead for smaller class sizes -- a topic that wasn't on the agenda.
UTLA President Warren Fletcher said teachers would support the breakfast program if more staff was hired for cleanup and the loss of class time was addressed.
"We want to make sure that kids have a good meal, a nutritious meal. But we want to do it in a way where it's not instruction versus nutrition," Fletcher said.
UTLA issued a statement earlier Tuesday saying that while there are "serious problems'' with the program, "these problems can and must be overcome so students get a nutritional breakfast and a full instructional day. It is not an either/or for children.''
Superintendent John Deasy said the program helps impoverished students who can’t afford breakfast. He told NBC4 Tuesday morning he expected the board to vote in favor of keeping the program that helps hundreds of thousands of students per year.