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School’s lunch debt policy blamed for ruining boy’s birthday


GREEN, Ohio (WEWS/CNN) – The family of an Ohio boy says his birthday was ruined when cafeteria workers at Green Primary School embarrassed him in front of his friends by taking away his lunch because of the school’s lunch-debt policy.

“The lunch lady didn’t say anything, took away my cheesy bread sticks and sauce, put them over there, and took out bread, cheese on bread out of the fridge and put it on my lunch tray,” Jefferson Sharpnack said.

Jefferson came home on Friday, Aug. 30 with a note that said his account was in the negative, which is the school’s protocol.

“Students receive multiple means of communication whenever their account become in the negative,” said Alana Niemiec, the assistant superintendent.

Diane Bailey, Jefferson’s grandmother, said he was humiliated the following Tuesday on his 9th birthday. She was in tears when she heard what happened.

“You would take the food off of a tray. You can’t reserve it. You’re going to throw it away and not feed the child? That doesn’t make sense to me,” Bailey said.

Bailey said when Jefferson came home with the note of negative funds, she called the school to straighten out the issue. Jefferson’s enrollment in a free and reduced lunch program had not been finalized yet.

Niemiec said she is considering changes to the policy.

“We are reviewing all of those specifics. We’re considering the idea of raising that debt cap from 15 to make sure that the student experience is positive in the lunch room,” Niemiec said.

Krista Seals, the principal of Green Primary School, said the lunchroom staff has been addressed following the incident.

“We have spoken with our cafeteria staff already about how to handle things, maybe differently and continuing to work with this family in particular as well,” Seals said.


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