I can't vouch for the authenticity of a Wareham teacher's account of her battle with Shaw's in Wareham, but it appeared on New Bedford Guide which is generally pretty solid in its reporting and has generated a tremendous amount of reaction, so I thought I'd weigh in.

Julie Ann Castro is a teacher at the Minot Forest School in Wareham. She says she ran to Shaw's on her lunch break to purchase five Butterball turkeys as part of a charitable program the school is involved with to feed the needy. Noble cause. Castro says a company-wide policy prevented her from purchasing more than one turkey at a time. She asked everyone from the checkout gal to the store manager to bend the rule and they would not.

Based on her account of what happened, she gave store employees a little bit of jazz about their refusal to make an exception for her even though she told them several times that the birds were for charity, and expressed her belief that Shaw's should be willing to assist people in the local community.

Castro was able to purchase several turkeys during her lunch break and hauled the goods back to the school. She was apparently late in getting back to work as indicated by her story in New Bedford Guide: "I run back to school, pick my third graders up from the hero aide who saves my bacon by delivering my class halfway down the hall to me (Thanks Mary!), do a quick potty patrol, bring the kiddos to music, and head back to Shaw’s."

After obtaining the rest of the turkeys she sought, Castro returned to school, where the superintendent was waiting. The store manager had called to complain about her behavior.

There are several things about this incident that trouble me. First, attempting to pressure local store employees, particularly the lowly cashier, to change corporate policy is unfair and wrong. Yet Castro insists that they should have bent the rules for her: "What is our country coming to when common sense can’t be allowed to override corporate policy."

Anyone who has ever worked in a retail situation recognizes that this is bullying and shows a complete ignorance of how the chain of command works in such situations. Her problem was with corporate, but she chose to take it out on local store employees.

Shaw's is not alone in limiting the number of turkeys that can be purchased at one time. Stop & Shop has a limit of two. Supermarkets set such policies to ensure that there are enough turkeys to satisfy their customer base. Often, owners of smaller stores will purchase carts full of merchandise from the larger markets for resale in their stores at a higher price. If Shaw's was to allow multiple turkey purchases to such individuals, its supply would diminish quickly.

Had Castro contacted the store in advance and told management what she needed and why, I am sure that an arrangement could have been made to provide her with what she needed. Shaw's may have even donated the birds since it was for a charitable cause.

Secondly, how is a teacher who is in charge of third graders allowed to leave the school building to shop while school is in session, not once but twice? Her first foray to Shaw's was during her 30-minute lunch period, and as indicated she was late in returning. An aide was left to watch the children as a result. Her second trip to the market occurred while the kids were in a music class.

What if something happened to one of those children while she was gone? She is their teacher and therefore has the primary responsibility for their wellbeing during the school day. I can only imagine the headline now: THIRD-GRADER KILLED WHILE TEACHER SHOPPED FOR TURKEYS. Arrangements should have been made for Castro to pick up the turkeys after school. Sometimes charitable work requires sacrificing some of your free time.

Not only did Castro behave badly while attempting to do something good, but school officials were either unaware of her comings and goings or were okay with her activities. For that, they deserve scrutiny from their superiors.

Parents who send their children to the Minot Forest School expect that their teacher will be there to supervise their activities during the day and not out shopping for turkeys or picking fights with local supermarket employees.

Barry Richard is the host of The Barry Richard Show on 1420 WBSM New Bedford. He can be heard weekdays from noon to 3 p.m. Contact him at barry@wbsm.com and follow him on Twitter @BarryJRichard58. The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author.

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