Boy’s ‘Jackpot’ Deals 2 Sodas, 2 Days’ Suspension
By Elaine D. Briseño
Journal Staff Writer
Mountain View Middle School seventh-grader Mason Kisner put his money in a soft drink machine at school and hit the “jackpot.”
He got two SoBe drinks for the price of one. But he also ended up with a trip to the principal’s office and two days of in-school suspension.
A teacher accused Kisner of showing other students how to get free drinks and referred him to the principal’s office for disciplinary action, according to the boy’s father, Edward Kisner.
Kisner said his son was suspended for “teaching students how to steal sodas.”
Kisner said that when two drinks popped out, a student standing behind Mason asked him how he did it. Mason replied: “I just pushed this button.”
A teacher overheard the conversation and told Mason not to tell other students how to get free drinks.
On Tuesday, several students were at the machine pushing the same button and getting extra drinks. Mason was standing nearby. The same teacher saw what was happening and wrote a referral, sending Mason to the principal’s office.
Kisner said Mason got two days of in-school suspension for “encouraging other students to steal.”
Mike Cruz, an employee at the Pepsi repair call center, told the Journal that a machine dispensing two sodas at a time is a common malfunction referred to as “jackpotting.” He said there is no way to make a machine “jackpot” from the outside.
Edward Kisner says his son’s suspension is “humiliating” and ridiculous because school officials are blaming Mason for a malfunctioning soda machine.
“It’s not his responsibility to govern if students are taking two sodas,” he said.
Kisner said that when he attempted to discuss the situation with assistant principal Joseph “Luke” Berglund on Wednesday his concerns were ignored.
Principal Kathy Pinkel said she did “not believe the assistant principal acted inappropriately in this matter.”
She declined to comment further.
Edward Kisner said his wife called Pepsi on Wednesday before meeting with Berglund. He said the company explained the “jackpotting” concept to his wife, and that he and his wife tried to explain this same concept to Berglund.
Kisner said he pleaded with Berglund to call Pepsi to prove it was the machine malfunction.
“How can he teach other students to take sodas from machines that are broken?” he said.
“He (Berglund) refused to do anything. He would not call the soda company. He would not listen to what we had to say.”
District spokeswoman Kim Vesely said the district had received written permission from Edward Kisner to comment on the situation.
Vesely released a statement Wednesday evening that said the teacher observed Mason “manipulating a soft drink machine in such a way that it dispensed two sodas.” The student also was observed demonstrating to other students the technique “for cheating the machine.” The teacher told Mason that getting two sodas for the price of one in this manner is the equivalent of stealing, and told him to stop doing it and stop teaching other students how to do it, the statement said.
On Tuesday, the same teacher observed Mason once again showing other students how to cheat the machine. “The student denied this, but the teacher, having observed the behavior, wrote a disciplinary referral,” the statement said.
The parents met with Berglund to discuss the incident and toward the end of the meeting the “father’s language was inappropriate” and the administrator ended the meeting, saying “the discussion could continue at a later time in a less confrontational manner.”
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