Surveillance video has revealed that an Ohio elementary school student was forced to eat from a trash can after throwing away unwanted food.
Jared Klebanow, the lawyer representing the girl’s family, said that “the video is shocking, it’s disheartening, it’s disturbing, and it’s what this child has been saying since the beginning”.
The footage was released by Lorain City Schools following a public records request.
19 News in Cleveland reported last month that Mr Klebanow filed a federal civil lawsuit against the school district, alleging that a lunchroom monitor at Palm Elementary School removed a waffle from the garbage and forced the child to eat it.
Both the employee and the school’s principal were fired following an internal investigation.
The district found that the student put a “package of food into a trash can in the presence of two staff members” and that “one of the staff members immediately removed the package of food, wiped it off and gave it back to the student”.
“The student opened the package and ate the food,” according to the school district. The student’s parent came to the school to complain but the principal “failed to take appropriate action”.
“Any infringement upon the dignity and respect of our students will not be tolerated,” Superintendent Jeff Graham said, according to 19 News. “Our students deserve staff members who are able to make good decisions in all situations — and any staff member who is unable to deliver on that promise is unwelcome in our schools.”
The mother, LaTosha Williams, said her daughter became ill following the incident and that she lost her job because she missed work while taking care of her child.
“It literally flipped my whole family upside down,” she told 19 News last month. “She has changed at home. She doesn’t act the same. She doesn’t even want to go to school.”
“We see in this video, she throws her lunch away like thousands of students do across the country do every day,” Mr Klebanow told 19 News. “For one reason or another, this monitor pulls the waffle from the garbage, holds it out like she doesn’t even want to look at it or see it, wipes it off with a napkin and hands it back to the student and forces her to eat it.”
The attorney said the lunch monitor intimidated and scared the student. He added that the lunch monitor was “within eyeshot” of the principal “during almost the entire video”.
The Lorain City School District said in a statement on 16 December that Dr Graham “has been in direct contact with the family since learning of the incident. As soon as the situation was confirmed he called the family to apologize on behalf of the district. He then met with the family to listen to their concerns to help address their needs moving forward”.
“We have phenomenal people doing great work in our schools each and every day,” Dr Graham said. “This incident in no way demonstrates who we are as a district, and we will not let the actions of two people define us when there are so many wonderful things happening in our classrooms, schools and community.”
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