A parent at Dundee Highlands Elementary School in West Dundee is upset about teachers rewarding students with candy as an incentive to behave, a practice she said promotes childhood obesity, poor nutritional habits and runs counter to the healthy eating habits she's teaching her first-grade daughter.
Jennifer Nickels, of West Dundee, also takes issue with her daughter's teacher showing noneducational movies during indoor recess, such as "Toy Story" and "The Wild."
As a result, the school will devise a survey to poll parents on both topics, Nickels said she was told.
The school routed media questions to Associate Superintendent Sarah Kedroski, who did not respond to repeated requests for comment.
Allison Strupeck, spokeswoman for Community Unit District 300, did not respond to related questions left for her Wednesday afternoon and was out of the office Thursday.
Nickels said her 7-year-old daughter had received Nerds, Laffy Taffy and other types of candy on a weekly basis since the beginning of the school year, but that has now stopped.
The candy issue didn't come to her attention until March when her daughter received candy at twice in one week and three times the following week, she said.
"Instead of getting like pencils and erasers or hanging up their artwork, a lot of teachers give candy," Nickels said, adding that her daughter is healthy as far as she knows. "And the principal seems OK with it."
Nickels also has a problem with her daughter's teacher showing movies during indoor recess that she says have nothing to do with the school curriculum. The movies, she said, turn kids into "zombies" and teach them that watching movies is an acceptable form of daily recreation.
An email to Nickels from her daughter's teacher, Bonnie Waldschmidt, said the kids watched a movie to "maintain order" since there weren't enough parent volunteers to monitor them and another class during the lunch period.
Board policy only addresses movies that are shown for instructional purposes, not during recess, according to an email Principal Patty Schmidt sent to Nickels.
Before spring break, Nickels said she met with Schmidt, and Kristin Corriveau, assistant superintendent to the elementary schools, over her concerns and was told the movies would no longer be shown to the first-graders during indoor recess, she said. She said her daughter's class is also no longer receiving candy at least until the end of the school year.
Nickels said reached out to the media and continues talking to school officials because she wants firm policies in place to govern both matters.
"I don't know what next year's going to hold," she said.