New Jersey school students forced to eat lunch off the floor

School cafeteria illustration 
By: Shifra Unger 

New Jersey school children were forced by their supervisor to eat lunch off the floor, according to court documents.

Now, a New Jersey school board has agreed to pay former fifth graders a total of $500,000 for a 2009 incident in which their supervisor at lunch ordered them to eat off the floor of the cafeteria for 10 consecutive school days, according to the lawyer representing the students.

About 16 students in Camden Charles Sumner Elementary School were forced into the extraordinary action in 2008, by the deputy director Theresa Brown after a classmate mistakenly poured a pitcher of water on the floor while the student refilled it at a water cooler, the lawsuit said.

"These kids have a hard enough life without being harassed by their own administration," said their lawyer Alan Schorr. "We hope this agreement will give them a good start to college," he said.

Brown later told state investigators looking into the incident that the draconian punishment was actually a product of not having enough chairs and cafeteria trays to accommodate the children. State officials eventually retracted that excuse.

Some of the students were absent the day of the spill, but they were forced to eat lunch off the cafeteria floor when they returned, while other classmates sat at tables for lunch.