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Star Tribune 

Richfield school lunch-shaming spurs new call for state fix


November 15, 2019

A Minnesota lawmaker is pledging to renew efforts to block schools from shaming kids over unpaid lunch debts after he learned this week that Richfield High School cafeteria workers took hot meals from students and threw them away.

The lunches were tossed because the students owed $15 or more, but the action was quickly halted Monday when administrators became aware of the situation.

"Unfortunately, this was not implemented in line with our guidelines or our values," the district said in a statement Monday. "We deeply regret our actions today and the embarrassment that it caused several of our students."

State Rep. Tony Jurgens, R-Cottage Grove, said Wednesday he was glad the district apologized but was frustrated such incidents continue to occur -- this despite a 2014 law that says schools could not "demean or stigmatize" students while reminding them of debts.

His bill would make clear that when meals are given, they cannot be withdrawn. In addition, the state's education commissioner would be granted enforcement authority in cases when students are not served meals respectfully under the proposal.


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