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NJ Kids Forced to Eat on Floor Win $500K

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By Deanne Katz, Esq. on August 16, 2012 6:46 AM

Students forced to eat on the floor as 'punishment' have settled for $500,000 in a lawsuit against the school district.

In 2008, fifth grade students at an elementary school in Camden, New Jersey were disciplined by then-Vice Principal Theresa Brown. The bilingual class was forced to eat on the floor for two weeks when one student accidentally spilled water, reports the Chicago Tribune.

The bizarre punishment was bad enough. But the administration's way of handling it makes it look much worse.

Vice Principal Brown forced the students to eat on the floor, without trays, for two weeks as a form of punishment. She told them the penalty would be extended if they told anyone about it, reports Fox News.

But parents found out and tried to speak with Principal Alex DeFlavis. He refused to meet with them and instead sent the parent to the bilingual teacher, Jose Rivera.

Rivera encouraged his students to have their parents report the incident to the school board. He was fired for his troubles.

He sued the school and settled for $75,000. Rivera was represented by the same attorney who fought for these students.

It shows that having a good advocate can mean everything.

While students don't necessarily have the same rights in school as in other situations they are still protected against disproportionate punishment. That appears to be a legitimate claim in this situation.

It's unclear what a jury would have thought since the case settled out of court. But given the amount of the settlement, the school seems to think that a jury would not approve of Brown's actions.

The district has to pay out but Brown is still working for Camden schools. She was transferred to a position as Vice Principal of Camden High School, according to Fox News.

That means these kids, who are now in ninth grade, have to deal with her all over again.

Out of this lawsuit, the students will net about $31,000 each which will hopefully help them make it college. While it doesn't erase the embarrassment of being forced to eat on the floor, it does something to compensate the kids.

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