This is Kylie Kirpatrick and her now 10 year old son Ryan Kyote, from Napa, CA.
On June 8 the Napa Valley Register published a story about Ryan’s alleged act of kindness by using his allowance to pay off school lunch debt for his classmates.
“I felt bad for all the kids that didn’t have any lunch,” Ryan said during an interview before the end of the school year. “It’s not fair,” he said.
“He was really upset about it,” said his mother Kylie Kirkpatrick. “I asked him, ‘What do you want to do about it?’”
Ryan’s answer? Make sure that didn’t happen at his school. Ryan didn’t realize that a California law prevents such “lunch shaming.” And within the Napa Valley Unified School District, students don’t go hungry. Those who have a negative food service balance still receive a hot lunch.
“We never want to send a child away without a lunch regardless of their ability to pay,” said Stacy Rollo, a NVUSD spokeswoman.
Regardless, Ryan decided he’d like to pay off the food service balance owed by his fellow students at West Park School.
“I thought it was a cool idea,” said Kirkpatrick. No kid should come to school unsure whether he or she will get to eat breakfast or lunch.
Her son has a big heart, his mother said. “I want him to give back.” Their idea to pay off the food service balance might even inspire other classes or schools to do the same, she said.
As a former teacher I firmly believe that it’s essential for kids not to be hungry at school in order for them to learn effectively, and that schools should feed kids whose parents aren’t doing that for whatever reason. But I’m not here to debate whether or not schools should be providing lunch to kids, and I’d hate to see the conversation become hijacked into a left vs. right ideology debate, when the focus of the story should be whether or not this child is being manipulated and coached by his mother to lie for financial benefit.
Keep in mind, “lunch shaming” is not something that affects kids who qualify for free lunch, because you can’t acquire debt if it’s free. The only people in this country who would ever have their children “lunch shamed” are middle class parents who haven’t paid their bills.
The story that Ryan says inspired him to be so generous involved a six year old girl in Indiana, who was “lunch shamed,” when she was given a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, as opposed to a hot lunch, due to an outstanding balance her grandfather never paid. The school district in Indiana said there was more to the story than the one-sided tale that the child’s grandfather told media.
DeKoninck said media reports of the incident were not entirely accurate but he declined to say what may have been wrong.
But the Napa Valley Unified School District doesn’t even use a policy like this. Not only do no kids in the district go home hungry because they were denied lunch as a result of an inability to pay, they all get a hot lunch and don’t use the alternative cold lunch method that other districts use when families owe money. The problem that Ryan was allegedly fixing was one that didn’t exist in Napa. A spokeswoman for the district said as much in the story.
Rollo said the current outstanding food service balance for all NVUSD schools is estimated to be $20,000 to $25,000. Until the school fiscal year ends on June 30, parents still have the opportunity to pay off their food service balance, said Rollo. After that, the district absorbs the remainder.
When kids owe money the school gives them lunch anyway, but adds the cost onto the parent’s bill. If the parents choose not pay the bill by the end of the year then the district eats the loss. So essentially there is no incentive to pay off debts and every reason not to. Nevertheless Ryan allegedly came up with the idea to donate his saved allowance to pay down part of the third grade debt that didn’t need to be paid down at West Park Elementary.
The mom and son emailed the NVUSD food service department to determine the amount owed. Depending on income, NVUSD elementary schools students pay either 30 cents or $1.25 for breakfast or 40 cents or $3.25 for lunch. It turns out the balance for all of West Park School was about $700, said Kirkpatrick. That gave her pause. Such an amount “is not in our budget,” said the single mother. What about the third grade balance? she asked. That was a more manageable amount: $74.80. “That’s a number we can handle,” she said.
Ryan took the funds from his savings account, and on May 24, he went down to the district office on Jefferson Street and paid it off. The staff was a bit surprised but gladly accepted his payment, said Kirkpatrick. “This was a very considerate and special donation and the district applauds the efforts of the student who has shown compassion to his school and fellow classmates,” said Rollo. Kirkpatrick took pictures of her son that day, holding the receipt for his payment. She’s proud of her son.
The school district has taken heat for accepting the payment in the first place, but it seems to be more of a gesture to make Ryan feel good about what he was doing. The sense of accomplishment he must’ve felt far outweighed the minimal impact his donation had on the overall debt, and in doing so Ryan supposedly learned the value of generosity.
Except the money doesn’t appear to have come from Ryan’s allowance, since Kylie started a GoFundMe days before donating the money.
Not only was Kylie Kilpatrick using her son to raise money for a problem that didn’t exist, she wasn’t transparent about where the money came from. In doing so she taught her son, who obviously knew that this was not his money, that it’s OK to lie for attention.
Many in the community began to take notice of this.
Kylie addressed these criticisms in a Facebook post on June 12.
She claimed that the money raised from the GoFundMe didn’t go to paying down the debt, but rather was paid to “another family.” She has never specified who that family was or provided documentation to prove that. Instead she went on the attack and blamed people who were skeptical for “raising drama” and coming from the upper rungs of the socioeconomic ladder. In reality these people just wanted transparency and were attacked for it. This is Kylie Kilpatrick’s MO, and we will see much more of it in the coming blogs.
Kylie put together a timeline in order to show what she believed was transparency.
But none of this explained what the GoFundMe money went towards, and to this day, despite thousands of stories being written about Ryan Kyote, not a single media outlet has ever mentioned the GoFundMe.
Additionally, Kylie has publicly insisted that she wanted to keep the donation anonymous, despite going on the record with her real name when she emailed the Napa newspaper on May 22, and despite posting pictures of her child everywhere.
As we will see in Part 2, Ryan’s story has gained an unprecedented amount of attention from some of the most influential and famous people in politics, media, and entertainment. He has become the American Greta Thunberg of school lunch, and is flying across the country lobbying state legislatures to enact laws banning lunch shaming. Two weeks ago he was in Rhode Island where he met with Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and State Representative Marcia Ranglin-Vassell. You may recalled we wrote about Ranglin-Vassell in January after she publicly complained that she was being “cyber-bullied” by another state rep, who she called racist for disagreeing with her on public policy.
All part-time legislators have expertise and experience in some areas and not others. That said, we should all respectfully listen to the views of those we represent and, if we disagree and know better, seek to educate and inform, not rudely dismiss. Give Respect, Get Respect. https://t.co/G1IAR8LogK
— Brian C. Newberry (@BrianCNewberry) January 6, 2019
Stop trolling and trying to cyber bully me with your racist attitudes ..
— Marcia Ranglin-Vassell,M.Ed (@MRanglinVassell) January 6, 2019
You can’t bully me off twitter. You’re a bully .
— Marcia Ranglin-Vassell,M.Ed (@MRanglinVassell) January 6, 2019
If you haven’t experienced racism how would you know what it feels like? #BelieveBlackWomen
— Marcia Ranglin-Vassell,M.Ed (@MRanglinVassell) January 7, 2019
Rhode Island is infamous for producing some of the most corrupt and ignorant politicians imaginable. I was sued by one in June (a man who was held in contempt of court as an attorney twice) because a client he represented had her feelings hurt by a blog. This was literally the reasoning he used in his complaint, which was filed in all caps.
The ACLU is representing me in this case.
Another State Rep who admittedly hates men, said she wanted to “burn capitalism to the ground,” and led an online mob to attack a former employer.
A fourth State Rep drew headlines when he sent an email out to constituents which showed opened porn tabs on his web browser; something he denied knowing anything about.
These are the kind of people who get elected to office in Rhode Island.
Ranglin-Vassell has paraded Ryan around everywhere, but listen to what he says in this interview.
“It made me feel like really sad because they’d sit there and have no lunch because they’d have their head down and sad. And when I saw my friends at my old school and they said I don’t have enough money to pay I said, do you want me to pay for it? And he was like sure. So I went to the cafeteria and bought him lunch.”
“Were your friends happy with that? What did they say afterwards?”
“Well they didn’t know for a couple months. And then they did and they said thank you for doing this.”
This is a completely fabricated story which directly contradicts earlier interviews Kylie and Ryan have given to the media. A story that he was most likely coached to repeat, since his mother was standing right there and didn’t correct him. Watch this interview Ryan did months later, and watch as Kylie sits next to him nodding every time he says the right thing.
In that interview he says he was inspired to do this when he saw a student at his school get denied a lunch, which made her sad and kids started laughing at her, which caused her to cry. Kylie nods every time he said the right thing.
In another interview she made it seem as if Ryan had sacrificed so much, and done so anonymously (despite doing interviews with the news), because he wanted to help kids in HIS school, but made no mention of the girl in Indiana who originally inspired him.
No kids at NVUSD have ever been denied a meal because they don’t have enough money. Ryan also didn’t see a hungry kid with his head down and bring him to cafeteria to buy food. His mother started a GoFundMe and they paid $74.80 on some debt that the district would’ve just absorbed in June.
As we will see, this wasn’t a victimless lie. The school district has faced national criticism, and it’s directly led to threats which forced them to temporarily shut down their social media accounts.
Nevertheless, the way the media was conducting that interview was pathetic, and a sad testament to the failure of what they have become. This was the reporter asking Ryan questions.
She was so happy just to be a part of it. The media is so blinded by the fantasy aspect of this story, where an altruistic 9 year old saves hungry kids across the country, that they’re unable to examine the story itself to see if any of it is real.
Critics argue that it doesn’t matter if Ryan’s story is a lie, because it’s leading to progressive reforms that they champion. But what this suggests is that the ends justify the means. That it’s OK to lie for attention, so long as it’s for a political cause you support. The media that is well aware of this story is going along with it because they’re using Ryan as a prop, much as his mother is.
Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow.
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