Minnesota high school cafeteria staff throws out hot lunches of students who owed $15 or more

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Cafeteria staff throws out hot lunches of students who owed $15 or more

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Officials from a Minnesota school district have apologized after high school students had their hot lunches thrown away and replaced by cold food if they had outstanding debts of more than $15.

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At least 40 students at Richfield High School had their hot lunches taken off their trays and were given a cold lunch after a lunchroom worker at the cash registered noticed the outstanding lunch debts, KARE-TV reported.

The incident was recorded on social media, and the school district in the Minneapolis suburb of Richfield issued an apology, saying the actions taken were "inappropriate."

"We deeply regret our actions today and the embarrassment that it caused several of our students. We have met with some of the students involved and apologized to them," Richfield Public Schools wrote in a statement posted on Facebook.

Richfield Superintendent Steven Unowsky told KARE the actions of cafeteria staff were "inappropriate."

“There are multiple failures we had in this situation and our job is to fix it. First and foremost [in] the way we treated our kids. We should never leave kids with the feeling they had from the experience,” Unowsky told the television station.

Richfield High School Principal Latanya Daniels said the situation was not handled properly.

"One of the things we can do is model failure with grace," Daniels told KARE. "We absolutely failed in this situation and our team is working to try and rectify mistakes we made," Daniels said.

School officials said students should not be told about their debts in front of fellow students, NBC News reported. Officials said students should be informed about outstanding balances from a guidance counselor or a social worker, the network reported.

Richfield likely will have to cover $20,000 in unpaid lunch bills by the end of this school year, KARE reported. Nearly 65% of students in the district already are receiving free lunches, the television station reported.