In 2008, 15 students at a New Jersey elementary school were forced to eat their lunch off the gym floor as an in-school punishment. Unhappy with how they were treated, seven kids and their parents filed a federal lawsuit against the Camden Board of Education. For the actions of their principal, the school system must now pony up a whopping $500,000 to make things right, according to NBC News.
Alan Schorr, the lawyer representing the kids in the case, said that the punishment was a direct result of tense race relations at the school. The children are Hispanic while their principal is African-American. Schorr claims the children were forced to eat their lunch off the paper liners used to cover lunch trays while their African-American classmates taunted them from nearby tables.
NBC reports that the kids accidentally spilled some water while attempting to place a jug on a cooler. As a result of their actions, administrators at the school found it necessary to discipline the kids by making them eat off the floor in front of their friends.
The board of education, meanwhile, has admitted no guilt in the case, but they did approve the settlement. In regards to how the money will be divided among the kids, the Courier Post Online reports that “the students will split $280,000, which works out to $31,428 each. Their attorney, Alan H. Schorr of Cherry Hill, will get $220,000.”
The teacher who was fired for instructing the kids to tell their parents about the incident has also received a settlement from the board of education. The educator has received $75,000 from the school system for their actions.
The principal who decided to punish the students by forcing them to eat their lunch off a dirty floor has since been transferred. Both the school board and its lawyers declined to comment on the case.