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Pennsylvania parents angry that Papa John's has a contract to provide pizza to area schools

Flying off the handle

Photo illustration by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Parents in a Pennsylvania school district are upset over their district's contract with pizza franchise Papa John's, which provides pizza to its elementary and middle schools.

Papa John's was at the center of a 2017 controversy in which its founder and former CEO, John Schnatter, complained about the NFL kneeling protests damaging the company's bottom line.

Schnatter also reportedly used the N-word during a conference call, and eventually ended up stepping down from his CEO duties within the company.

What's a brief background?

According to the Centre Daily Times, the State College Area School District declined its bid award for Papa John's to supply pizza to elementary and middle schools within the district for the 2018-19 school years. The decision was made after Superintendent Bob O'Donnell and Business Manager Randy Brown determined that Schnatter's remarks violated the district's Climate and Inclusive Excellence Policy.

Instead, the school opted to approve a contract with Domino's Pizza, despite the fact that Papa John's provided the most cost-effective quote for the schools.

The district's food service administrators, however, have recommended the district award a bid to Papa John's to provide pizza for the 2019-20 school year.

What are the details?

District parent Lorraine Jones is just one parent rubbed the wrong way about the possible plan.

She issued scathing remarks about the school's potential partnership with the franchise, insisting that its founder's remarks should disqualify the company from operating in district schools.

"Papa John's founder uses the N-word to describe people of color," Jones said in an email, according to The College Fix. "[T]he school district wants to continue to support the sales of Papa John's pizza as a fundraiser in the district despite the fact of racist language has been used by the former owner."

She added that children are "very impressionable," and insisted that adults in decision-making capacities within the district "model ... antibigotry behavior for young children [and] show children that black lives and moral integrity matter over financial gain."

In a statement, O'Donnell said, "From the beginning, our district has taken the Papa John's contract very seriously because we understand the sensitivity of his comments within our black community. While nothing is final with the current proposed contract, we are committed to equity and inclusivity."

The outlet also reported that district administrators reportedly reached out to Papa John's in an effort to vet its "commitment to diversity and equity nationally and in the State College community."

The district purportedly determined that the franchise had taken "significant steps" in, according to the Times, "nationally increase support of, representation of, and involvement in diverse communities."

"Our goal has been to increase our understanding of this complex matter so that we can make the most informed recommendation possible," O'Donnell added. "Our hope is to reach a conclusion that considers what is best for our students and our entire community, with a specific focus on our black community."

O'Donnell added that the matter will be revisited "in the near future."

One last thing…
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