St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Education Commissioner did not specifically name the Stewartville School District, but Brenda Cassellius issued a statement today that is highly critical of school districts that have adopted policies that result in the dumping of meal trays in cases where students have unpaid account balances.

The Stewartville School District has faced considerable criticism since it was recently disclosed that students without funds in their lunch accounts faced having their lunch dumped out and replaced with a minimal meal featuring a cold sandwich in front of their classmates.

Cassellius, in her statement, described the practice as downright wrong and mean.

“It baffles me that educators would think otherwise. This is especially frustrating when many of our school districts have millions of dollars in their general education reserves, saved for a “rainy day.” These reserves are unspent funding that kids themselves generated each year but were not spent on them. Therefore, it seems fair that this funding be used first to feed kids that need it, rather than shame them or deny them a meal.”

Cassellius called on every school board member and superintendent to review their policies on lunch debt and fees to ensure all children are treated fairly and have the same access to food as their wealthier peers.

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