In November of 2021, a Black student at Palm Elementary School in Ohio was forced to eat food that had previously been discarded in the trash. After she informed her parents about what happened, her parents sued the school and requested surveillance footage.
After a nearly three-month-long wait, the Lorain City School District finally released the 34-minute video to the public on January 19, 2022, which confirms the student’s version of events. The recording clearly “shows a child throwing her finished lunch into the garbage can, telling the principal she did not like the waffles. A white adult woman wearing a T-shirt and blue jeans pulled the food out of the trash can, wiped off the package of food and told the female student to eat what had been thrown into the garbage. The video shows the 9-year-old fourth grader refusing to do what the adult aid asks, but eventually acquiesce. At one point the aid sits next to the student to ensure she eats the food,” Atlanta Black Star reports.
After the district conducted an internal investigation, they released their findings and fired both the employee and school principal.
- “A student deposited a package of food into a trash can in the presence of two staff members;
- 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 in it;
- The student’s parent came to the school and complained that her daughter was given the food to eat after the package was thrown into the trash can;
- The school’s principal received the complaint but failed to take appropriate action.”
“Any infringement upon the dignity and respect of our students will not be tolerated…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,” said Superintendent Jeff Graham.
LaTosha Williams, mother of the student, told reporters, “It literally flipped my whole family upside down…She has changed at home. She doesn’t act the same. She doesn’t even want to go to school.” She also said that her daughter was rendered physically ill after the incident, she had to miss work to care for her daughter, and she lost her job as a result.
The lawsuit filed by the family “seeks admission of wrongdoing, a collaborative effort to prevent such incidents in the future and an undetermined amount of money.” One of the family’s attorneys, Jared Klebanow stated that the video ultimately confirmed the student’s testimony, adding that “unfortunately, in our world and society today, had that video not been there, it might have just been a child’s word against a teacher, an administrator, which is a tough spot to be in.”