Ninth Grader Punished For Taking 40-Cent Lunch - NewsChannel5.com | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Ninth Grader Punished For Taking 40-Cent Lunch

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Outside of Station Camp High School Outside of Station Camp High School
Krista Goetleuck Krista Goetleuck
Sumner County Schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson Sumner County Schools spokesman Jeremy Johnson

GALLATIN, Tenn. - A Sumner County ninth grader is charged with theft and sent before a judge for taking a 40-cent lunch without paying.

Krista Goetleuck thinks her son's school went way too far. She said her son is not a troublemaker, he was just hungry.

"Our last hospitalization was $78,000," said Goetleuck, who moved to Nashville a few months ago.

She said her youngest child has had brain surgery.

With a family of six and a sick child, every penny counts for her family, Goetleuck said. 

She said her 15-year-old son John Riker receives a reduced lunch at Gallatin's Station Camp High School. One day during the last semester, she forgot to give him 40 cents for lunch.

"He was hungry so he went through the lunch line and didn't pay and the SRO (school resource officer) charged him with theft for a 40-cent lunch," Goetleuck said.

John received a three-day in-school suspension and a court date.

"He was humiliated," Goetleuck said. "He was called a thief. He was treated like a thief."

Jeremy Johnson, Sumner County Schools spokesman, said the school has dealt with a lunch theft problem. Johnson said Goetleuck's son was one of seven students caught stealing.

"We have a zero-tolerance policy, which means if the SRO's see any theft or crime they are told to prosecute," Johnson said.

But Goetleuck believes John is guilty of no crime and that the policy goes too far.

"I think the school was heartless," she said. "Every child has a different situation and they didn't take that into account."

Her son appeared in juvenile court Tuesday morning and settled his case.  The theft charge will be wiped from his record as long as he goes to school and behaves for the next six months. 

His mother said that won't be a problem because he's never been in trouble before this incident.

Goetleuck said she hopes the school will evaluate future incidents such as her son's on a case-by-case basis.

School officials said they do not plan to change the current no-tolerance policy on lunch thefts.

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