School principal and lunch lady fired after forcing primary girl to eat waffle from the rubbish bin

School principal and lunch lady fired after forcing primary girl to eat waffle from the rubbish bin

Shocking video captured the moment an Ohio elementary school cafeteria worker forced a fourth-grade girl to eat a waffle she had thrown in the trash in a disturbing incident that led to a federal lawsuit and the firing of the lunch lady and the school's principal.

The nine-year-old student, who is black, was ordered to finish her meal after the white lunch monitor, identified as Monika Sommers-Fridenstine, fished the lunch from a trash bin at Palm Elementary in Lorain - as the principal stood by and did nothing, according to the civil rights lawsuit.

The footage of the early December incident was released last week by Lorain City Schools following a public records request.

'We see in this video, she throws her lunch away like thousands of students do across the country do every day,' said Jared Klebanow, the lawyer representing the girl's family.

'For one reason or another, this monitor pulls the waffle from the garbage, holds it out like she doesn’t even want to look at it or see it, wipes it off with a napkin and hands it back to the student and forces her to eat it.'

Klebanow, who filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio on December 8, questioned whether the incident was racially motivated.

'Hundreds of caucasian children have thrown away their lunches at Palm Elementary school and, upon information and belief, have never been required to eat food pulled from the garbage,' the lawsuit states.

The lunch monitor and Principal Deborah Pustulka, who is also white, were fired on December 16 after the school district investigated the incident.

Former school Principal Deborah Pustulka (pictured) was fired after she watched the incident unfold and didn't intervene.

The unidentified girl's mother, LaTosha Williams, said her daughter simply didn't like the waffles.

That wasn't good enough for Sommers-Fridenstine, who 'crossed her arms and looked at [the girl]' until she ate the waffles, her classmates looking on,' according to the lawsuit

Fridenstine told her to 'go sit down' and that she 'would be required to eat the waffles dug out of the garbage,' the lawsuit added.

Klebanow said that Sommers-Fridenstine 'scared' and 'intimidated' the student into eating the waffle while Pustulka was in 'eyeshot.'

Ben Crump, the famed civil rights lawyer who represented the families of George Floyd, Daunte Wright and Ahmaud Arbery, retweeted the surveillance footage.

LaTosha Williams, the mom of fourth-grader, said her daughter simply didn't like the waffles.

Williams said that her daughter fell ill after eating the soiled lunch, and that she lost her job after taking time off to care for the girl.

Williams said that her family is 'torn apart,' and that her daughter has lost interest in school.

'She has changed at home,' she told 19 News. 'She doesn’t act the same. She doesn’t even want to go to school.'

In a December 16 statement announcing the firings of the principal and the paraprofessional, Superintendent Jeff Graham asserted that '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,' he said.

Graham has 'been in direct contact with the family since learning of the incident,' and has 'apologized on behalf of the district.'

He then 'met with the family to listen to their concerns to help address their needs moving forward.'

Klebanow doesn't think that goes far enough, seeking an unspecified amount of money and an admission of wrongdoing in the lawsuit.

'Nobody else's child should ever have to go through something like this,' Williams said.
School principal and lunch lady fired after forcing primary girl to eat waffle from the rubbish bin
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