Education Law

Zero Tolerance for Junk Food at Lunch Puts Girl in School Detention for Week

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Updated: A third-grader in Texas is paying the price for eating a Jolly Rancher candy at lunch–one week’s detention during lunch and recess periods.

The seemingly harsh penalty is necessary, officials at Brazos Independent School District say, because the district risks losing funding if it violates a state guideline by permitting students to eat “minimal nutrition” foods, reports KHOU 11 News.

While a Texas Department of Agriculture website says the policy doesn’t restrict the food parents may provide to their own children for lunch, the problem in this case is that 10-year-old Leighann Adair was given the Jolly Rancher by another child, says the principal of Brazos Elementary, Jeanne Young.

However, Bryan Black of the TDA tells the ABA Journal that its food policy has been misinterpreted and will be clarified to school districts. He is an assistant commissioner for communications at the department.

“There is no prohibition in the nutrition policy that stops a student from sharing small amounts of food with friends at the lunch table,” he writes in an e-mail to the ABA Journal. “If a student wants to share a Jolly Rancher with a friend, that is not a violation of the school nutrition policy, and we would not issue a negative finding to a school district.”

The nutritional guidelines in the TDA’s policy are simply intended to help schools serve healthy meals to students, he says.

Leighann’s mother, Amber Brazda, says her daughter was in tears when she arrived home with the detention notice after the Monday incident, but has learned a lesson from it, reports Channel 11:

“I told her, ‘Leighann, unfortunately you’re learning very young that life’s not fair,’ ” Brazda recounts.

Hat tip: Ultimate Fort Bend.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. to include comments from Bryan Black.

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