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Fired school bus driver, supporters pack school board meeting

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Johnny Cook, a school bus driver, was fired after making a Facebook post critical of school officials. Johnny Cook, a school bus driver, was fired after making a Facebook post critical of school officials.
HARALSON COUNTY, Ga. -

Dozens of people packed a Haralson County Department of Education meeting on Tuesday to show support for a fired school bus driver.

Johnny Cook was fired from after posting a message on Facebook that blasted school officials for reportedly letting a student go hungry. That middle school student told Cook that he was denied food when his lunch money account ran out.

The school system demanded that Cook remove the Facebook post and apologize or lose his job. Cook refused. He said if he had the chance, he'd do it all over again.

"I wouldn't back down one step, still won't back down one step," Cook said.

The school denies that the kid wasn't offered lunch, but it does admit Cook was fired after he refused to pull the post.

School officials have since released surveillance video that they say shows the student never tried to go through the cafeteria food line.

"We've looked at the video footage and, for whatever reason, the student did not go through the line. So I think the unfortunate thing was the school system was not given the opportunity to provide the fact," Brett Stanton, the superintendent of the Haralson County School System.

Officials did not allow Cook and his supporters to speak at Tuesday's meeting since they didn't sign up in advance.

The school board did approve a new pilot federal grant program that will feed all elementary and middle school students lunch and breakfast for free for the next four years, regardless of income.

"This may be the only nutritious meal they get all day is in their school, so it's critically important," Stanton said.

Cook says he wants his job back, but he doesn't expect to get it. He did said he was thrilled by the decision from the school board to go forward with this grant to provide free meals to all students.

"I was terminated for standing up for a kid that didn't get it. I just want to say, hey guys are we in agreement there was a need then," Cook said.

School officials said they consider Cook's case a closed matter.

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