Pizza Grinch: Iowa principal apologizes for denying treat before holiday break

Middle school principal criticized after taking away pizza party

An Iowa middle school principal turned into the Grinch in the eyes of some of his students Thursday.

Brody Middle School Principal Thomas Hoffman apologized after he was criticized on social media for taking pizzas away from a classroom of seventh-grade students who were being rewarded by their teacher before they left for the holiday break, the Des Moines Register reported.

Neil Erickson, whose son was in the class, posted a complaint Thursday on Facebook. Erickson wrote that his son and classmates were excited for days about the pizzas, but they were intercepted by Hoffman, who cited a school fairness policy.

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“The teacher was left in tears,” Erickson wrote. “I just can’t believe it!”

The post triggered more than 3,000 responses and was shared more than 3,500 times.

Hoffman wrote a note of apology to parents late Thursday. saying he was trying to be fair to all students, the Register reported.

“That applies to everything from the chances they have to learn in the classroom to rewards and recognitions by our teachers and staff. We have discussed this from time to time as a school,” Hoffman wrote. “… However, I do want to apologize for being overly strict in applying that standard today when it came to one of our classrooms. Most of all, I want to apologize for disappointing any of our students and punishing them."

Hoffman told the Register on Friday that the school usually holds pizza parties in its library, so students who cannot eat pizza for religious or dietary reasons can get other food from the nearby cafeteria.

Hoffman said he did not discuss the timing of the pizza party and said the library was not available for the seventh-graders, the newspaper reported.

Hoffman did make amends Friday, throwing a pizza party for the class, the Register reported. More than two dozen pizzas were donated, and several local businesses committed to donating pizzas for future rewards to the student body of 750, the newspaper reported.

“I just regret that it became an ugly, big, huge thing,” Hoffman told the Register. “I didn’t communicate well enough when they wanted to do it. ... I didn’t spend enough time to make clear and to amplify the message.

“But I disappointed the teacher and the students and for that I take full responsibility. I’m grateful for the parent involvement and concern, and am hoping we can leverage this for more good things for our students.”