Ohio boy had lunch taken away at school due to negative balance on his birthday

Jefferson Sharpnack (WEWS)
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GREEN, Ohio (CNN/WEWS) - The family of an Ohio grade school student said he was humiliated by staff who took away his birthday lunch in front of his friends because of a lunch-debt policy.

"The lunch lady didn't say anything, took away my cheesy breadsticks 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 August 30 with a note stating his account was in the negative, something Green Local Schools administrators say is protocol.

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"Students receive multiple means of communication whenever their account become in the negative,” Assistant Superintendent Alana Niemiec said.

But what happened the following Tuesday on Jefferson’s ninth birthday left his grandmother in tears.

She said her grandson was humiliated in front of his classmates.

"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,” Diane Bailey said.

Bailey said after her grandson came home with the notice of negative funds in his account, she spoke with a school administrator to straighten out the issue.

Her grandson’s enrollment in the free and reduced lunch program had not been finalized yet.

Administrators in the school district say policy changes are already being considered.

"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 at Green Primary Schools, says the lunchroom staff has been addressed following Tuesday’s 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,” she said.