WILLIAMSON, W.V. – Students and parents are rallying to the defense of a teacher who is accused of violating federal school snack rules.

The Williamson PreK-8 teacher, who was not identified, would give her students “wrapped candy” as a reward for their hard work and good behavior.

Because the practice was an alleged violation of the federal rules championed by first lady Michelle Obama, Mingo County Schools Director of Child Nutrition Kay Maynard “placed a call to officials at the West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) to report the incident,” the Williamson Daily News reports.

Maynard also spoke to Williamson PreK-8 principal Shannon Blackburn, telling him about the possibility of a monetary fine for the teacher.

When news spread, parents and student mobilized, collecting pennies to pay the potential fine on the teacher’s behalf.

Administrators at the WVDE decided the teacher’s violation was not a “deliberate attempt” to break Michelle Obama’s rules and said instead of fining the teacher, they required the department to “develop a corrective action plan to include training on child nutrition policies.”

By participating in the National School Lunch Program, the school district must adhere to edicts handed down from Washington, D.C.

Those rules state that food, such as “wrapped candy,” cannot be used as “a reward and it cannot be withheld as a punishment.”

Administrators with Mingo County Schools claim the federal rules were developed “to help educators encourage students to make healthy decisions.”

If they’re not strictly followed, schools can be required to return federal school lunch money, be penalized for state and federal food service programs, or make all schools in the county vulnerable to similar punishment.

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