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Back in the cafeteria

East Gresham student Bonnie Burch can be fed inside school, but only by her parents


After eating lunch outside for 39 school days, Bonnie Burch is back in the cafeteria at East Gresham Elementary School.

“This will make the rest of the year go OK, but I’m hoping next year we make more progress forward,” said Beverly Hanset-Burch, Bonnie’s mother.

Tuesday, Feb. 26, Bonnie’s family learned through the Gresham-Barlow School District she would have to be fed off campus because the Multnomah Education Service District no longer considered her feeding method to be safe.

Bonnie was born with arthrogryposis, a congenital disorder that manifests itself in many different ways. She is fed through a tube in her stomach by a large syringe containing blended food. She has been fed this way at school since kindergarten.

The third-grader’s case drew regional attention and an event held in her honor,” Eat in the Street with Bonnie.” She spent 39 school days eating outside at a card table under a tent with her parents.

Bonnie can now be fed in the cafeteria by her parents, but not her home caretakers or school aides, something Hanset-Burch hopes will change next year through negotiations with the Gresham-Barlow School District and Multnomah Education Service District.

How medical procedures — feeding protocols, insulin injections, seizure responses and the administration of medications — are carried out in school districts is determined by MESD school nurses.

The controversy over Bonnie’s feeding began in February because Gresham-Barlow would not permit any staff member, parent or caregiver to carry out a procedure in the schools if a medical professional had deemed the procedure unsafe.

“I’m glad it’s resolved and hope everybody is happy with the results on all sides,” MESD Superintendent Barbara Jorgensen said.

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