Summit County school district changes policy after student is denied lunch on birthday

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Summit County, OH – Sliding down a steep hill in grandma’s backyard; one of Jefferson Sharpnack’s favorite pastimes.

But his usually playful, happy personality changed in an instant during lunch hour here inside Green Primary School back on August 30, which was also his 9th birthday.

"He gets off the bus and he says, Grandma! Worst birthday ever! And I asked him what happened and he proceeded to tell me he wasn't allowed to pass out a snack which is a new policy I understand that. Then he says they took his lunch from his tray and gave him a piece of cheese and bread."

Jefferson’s grandmother, Diane Bailey, has temporary custody of him and his siblings and enrolled them in the free and reduced lunch program.

Bailey says she was told she could write a check for any unpaid balance until the paperwork was processed, but says her grandson was denied the lunch he wanted, because of a $9 unpaid balance.

"He was bullied. He was bullied by the school officials. He had his lunch removed from his tray at the age of 9."

Bailey says after making several complaints, Green Local Schools took notice, making district-wide changes effective immediately.

In a statement released to FOX 8, Superintendent Jeff Miller says students K-12 will now receive the standard lunch for the day, regardless of their account balance.

He goes on to say, "We are sensitive to the financial hardship families incur and challenges presented due to the cost of school breakfast and lunches. Our staff, in coordination with Family Support Specialists, will continue to work with families to ensure they have access to all available resources to assist with purchasing school meals."

"This was the perfect solution, I thank Green schools for responding so quickly."

And while Jefferson’s 9th birthday may have started on a bad note, grandma says it ended with dinner at his favorite restaurant and cupcakes.

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