School superintendent says 'Survivor' "lunch lady" lied

Denise_lMillions sat with their jaws agape waiting to hear who would win $100,000 as Survivor China‘s most popular contestant on the series’ reunion show Sunday night (it was James) — but perhaps none was more agape than Nancy T. Lane’s. Lane is the superintendent of the Douglas Public Schools in Douglas, Mass., and she says that her employee, “lunch lady” contestant Denise Martin, lied on Sunday’s live broadcast when she stated that she was not given her job back as a cafeteria worker upon her return from taping the reality show and instead was made to “clean the toilets” as a janitor working night shifts. At the end of the show, host Jeff Probst gave Martin $50,000 on behalf of producer Mark Burnett to help get her life back on track.

“Yeah, I watched my own jaw drop when she said that, because it’s absolutely not true,” Lane told Hollywood Insider. Lane released a statement on Monday, on the Douglas Public School District website, explaining that Martin was actually promoted to the position as custodian –- a promotion Lane claims Martin asked for herself. Reached for comment, CBS responded: “The comments made by Ms. Martin on the program were compelling and sympathetic. If these statements were misleading or false, we hope that she will take immediate and public steps to clarify her remarks.”

Lane’s statement says that “Martin held a full-time position as a custodian prior to her participation in the series, and she returned to this same position upon her return from China.” The statement continues, “Although Mrs. Martin was a cafeteria employee prior to her selection as a contestant, she asked to be considered for a promotion to full-time custodian, and was promoted to this position on March 30, 2007. This promotion came with additional benefits and a higher salary. Following her leave, she then returned to this same position.” Martin has held the new position since August, when she returned from taping the show, up until last week, when she traveled to California for the live Survivor broadcast, according to Lane.

“I can empathize, having been a working mother,” Lane said. “It’s tough to work those night shifts. But she took the job; that’s the job she took leave from [to do Survivor]. If she wants to go back to the day shift, she should apply when one comes open.”

Lane says she spoke with Martin on the telephone on Monday afternoon and that the show’s fourth-place finisher was apologetic, but that “she did not explain why she said that to my satisfaction,” Lane explained. “It’s difficult to grasp. We did nothing but encourage her. She took leave for almost three months, she was given additional times off when ever she needed it. Now she says this on national TV…. Douglas is a nice little town. Everybody was rooting for her, the local paper was bending over backwards with positive articles. Then to have it end this way. Talk about a letdown.”

Martin was still in California on Monday, but Lane says her job is waiting for her when she comes back home on Friday. “I told her, ‘I think we have a few things to go over,'” Lane says. “I might have a few things I’d like to talk about.”


Comments (14 total) Add your comment
  • Kevin

    Okay, I defended Denise on the Survivor Comment section earlier. Now I feel like a fool!

  • Andy

    Wow. Denise was playing us the whole time… I knew she had it in her.

  • daisy

    Not cool Denise. You had a chance to merge with Eric and PG. Now take your medicine.

  • Bob

    Sympathy was her weapon of choice from the start.

  • jb4

    She didn’t lie. She said she lost her job as the lunch lady and was given the job of custodian. She didn’t say she was fired. It’s all semantics. Plus who is to believe her boss? The boss lady had to fill the position while Denise was gone and just didn’t open it back up to her when she got back. I mean wouldn’t she lie to look better after what I’m sure was a public relations nightmare. I’m sticking with Denise on this one.

  • Cathy

    I still like her……

  • TI

    I am thinking the school board had to make a very quick decision on what to say about Denise’s comments last night! When Denise said she could not be a lunch lady because it caused to many distractions…. I was at a loss for words! That sounds like crap people do and then to come back and say they did not do that! I think the school board was covering their ass!
    Becuase last night there had to have at least one good lawyer that was going to contact her today and then DENISE would be a millionare! I doubt Denise would lie on the show in front of millions… She had no idea she was going to get any kind of money last night!

  • Andrea

    I think this could have looked really bad for the school. I am unsure who to believe but I’m not going to down Denise just because some superintendent says she is lying. One of them is lying, but which one?? None of us know which one is fibbing.
    But this is the superintendent of the school entire school system. How in the world would she know what went on with the hirings/firings of a lunch lady/janitor? She might be able to look into a file- with the SCHOOLS version of events, which most definitely make the school look good.
    The school system certainly has more motive to lie than Denise – that sympathy cash has never been handed out in survivor history, so why would Denise ever imagine they’d give her that money?
    I am staying behind denise on this one!

  • wayne


  • Dwebb

    Denise did not lie, this is being sugar coated by the school system to save face. Anyone who has worked or dealt with the school system, knows that this was a black eye for them. Why did they tell her she was too much of a distraction to be in the school during the day hours. The way they will dodge this bullet is someone of lesser authority within her school will take the fall and we will never hear about it. The school itself may have made the decision to move Denise, and the fact that those decisions do not have to be approved through the super, allows her to with a clean concious say they did not do anything wrong to Denise. Then next week sometime in the back of the paper you will see a small addendum to poor Denises story, stating that some personell without the consent of the super or school board said things that were misrepresentative of the schools true feelings and that they want to publicly apologize for calling her a liar. To bad it will be on the back page.

  • Anonymous

    Maddie Dec. 17
    Nancy Lane is a wonderful principled superintendent of the Douglas Public Schools. I believe what she says is true, and I’m sure the real truth will come out. It is ashame that Denise felt the need to play the sympathy card, and twist the truth about her real life. And here we thought she was the most truthful and popular of all the contestants. My daughter goes to the school where she works, and sees her everyday, it is dissapointing and I hope she comes forward and tells the truth.

  • upchuck

    jump aboard the ship of fools. who’s lying? all of them. in the name of greed and idolatry, people these days will say anything that suits their “value”
    a sad sort of affairs. television simply is the medium that is used for this purpose.

  • Kate

    I can understand Denise completely. I worked for a school in the food service dept. for 22 the head cook, and they pulled the rug out from under me also.

  • Ken

    Who knows? for certain likely some mis-communication or mis-perception involved on one or both sides. In case no one noticed when she refused to do the math or face reality on re-aligning herself with Erik and PG and in other comments on the show Denise’s perceptions aren’t always the sharpest. To say this on TV when she had been away 2-3 months and still had a job wasn’t very clever, even if it made a nice crowning touch to her harping sympathy plays on the show.
    But in the end hopefully we can all just let this go and let her get on with her regular life and making peace with her co-workers and employer. could argue she deserves the $ 50,000 for entertainment value or playin the Survivor players, Jeff and co. Better the latter reason since if for enetrtainment value no one could top Courtney!

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