LORAIN, Ohio (WJW) – The mother of a Lorain student has filed a federal lawsuit against the Lorain City Schools, claiming an elementary school employee forced the 9-year-old child to eat food retrieved from a lunchroom garbage can.
The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio, alleges the incident happened in the Palm Elementary School cafeteria on Nov. 21.
The suit alleges the student told the school’s principal she “did not like the waffles” she was eating and “asked for a different meal.” The lawsuit states the principal told the girl to “finish what was on her tray,” but the student instead “threw out the remaining waffles.”
The suit alleges another staff member then pulled the waffles from the trash and forced the girl to finish eating them.
“How in the world could one of their employees feel this is OK or an appropriate remedy for any situation at all?” said Cleveland attorney Jared Klebanow, who is representing the mother. “In this instance, the Lorain City School District has failed.”
The lawsuit claims the incident left the child “frightened and embarrassed” and feeling physically ill, and she has since needed mental health treatment as a result.
“The child is afraid of their school, doesn’t want to eat lunch at school. I think she will have trouble trusting educators and administrates moving forward,” Klebanow said.
The lawsuit claims the incident violated several of the student’s constitutional rights and that she was targeted because she’s African American. The suit also alleges the district failed to properly train its staff.
“The number one goal here is to make sure no other child goes through what our client’s child has gone through,” Klebanow said.
A spokesperson for the Lorain City Schools said it has placed two staff members on leave as it investigates.
“District authorities responded in accordance with board policy and past practice by placing any staff member who could potentially be involved in incidents of this serious nature on immediate paid administrative leave, pending an investigation,” the district said in a statement provided to FOX 8 News.
The district said it cannot comment further until it completes its investigation, which is expected by early next week.