New Jersey mom: School 'bullying' autistic son by tossing out hot lunch over debt

A New Jersey woman said her 10-year-old son has been repeatedly humiliated by school employees who threw out his hot lunch over unpaid balances on his lunch account.

“This to me is a form of bullying,” said Amy Ross, whose son has Asperger’s syndrome, a form of autism.

Ross said staffers have tossed aside hot food several times over the past two years, including as recently as this month, after she has overlooked her responsibility to pay into the account.

“It’s between the parents and the cafeteria,” Ross told WCAU-TV. “It’s not between the child and the lunch lady. Let the kids eat their lunch.”

Ross said she does not always receive notices sent home with her son, and she called the principal last year and received an apology.

She decided to go public with her son’s story after reading reports about a similar situation in Utah, where the Salt Lake City School District apologized last week to students whose meals were thrown away over unpaid lunch accounts.

The Galloway Township Public Schools superintendent, said district policy is to replace a child’s hot lunch with a cheese sandwich if their account is delinquent.

“Depending on the situation, the child is pulled to the side, spoken to very calmly, and everything is done to both follow the policy but also to respect the child," said Superintendent Annette Giaquinto.

She told the station that taking away a student’s hot lunch was necessary under certain circumstances, even if she did not feel good about it.

“Well, I believe there are certain times when I think you need to take certain measures and again, I know that sounds cold,” Giaquinto said. “Is it a practice I love? No.”

School officials said they wanted to discuss the issue with Ross, who said she would return a message from the district Monday.

Watch this video report posted online by WCAU-TV: