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From left: Sen. Todd Weiler and Sen. Jim Dabakis speak to reporters in the doorway of Uintah Elementary School before stoping in for school lunch, Jan. 30, 2014, in Salt Lake City.
Rick Bowmer / AP

A Utah cafeteria manager was placed on administrative leave and a school district apologized Thursday after lunches were seized from the hands of hungry elementary school students who had run out of lunch money

Lunches were taken from up to 40 students at Uintah Elementary School in Salt Lake City on Tuesday after lunch officials noted outstanding balances on their accounts, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. Parents were outraged at the way the school handled the situation, and some complained that they had never been notified that their account balances were low. Because of how the school runs its lunch system, cafeteria workers didn’t know whether the students had lunch money until they had already picked up their lunches, and once a student has selected a lunch it can’t be re-served to a different kid. So lunch workers took the lunches from the kids who had negative balances and threw them away. The children were given milk and fruit to eat instead.

State Sen. Todd Weiler held a news conference at the school Thursday calling the incident “bullying” and demanding that the cafeteria manager responsible should be fired, the Tribune reports.

“This person came into a school and used her power to humiliate and embarrass children and I think we ought to draw a line and say that’s not acceptable behavior,” he said.

The manager has been placed on paid administrative leave, and more employees could be placed on leave as well.

Jason Olson, a Salt Lake City School District spokesman, told the Tribune that the incident is under investigation. He could not be immediately reached for further comment.

[Salt Lake Tribune]

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