A school board voted in favor of firing both the principal and a paraprofessional at a Lorain, Ohio, elementary school Thursday after an investigation showed that a 9-year-old student was forced to eat food taken back out of a cafeteria garbage can.

Lorain City Schools Superintendent Dr. Jeff Graham fired Palm Elementary School Principal Debra Pustulka and paraprofessional Monika Sommers-Fridenstine following the investigation.

Pustulka was given notice with 10 days to appeal the decision due to her status as an administrator. She had served as the school’s principal since 2008.

The school district announced its recommendation for firing the school staff members in a statement.

“Any infringement upon the dignity and respect of our students will not be tolerated. Our students deserve staff members who are able to make good decisions in all situations — and any staff member who is unable to deliver on that promise is unwelcome in our schools,” the statement reads.

The student’s family has filed a lawsuit against the district. According to the suit, Pustulka told the student she had to eat her lunch and finish what was on her tray. The student, who did not want to, threw her food away, prompting Sommers-Fridenstine to remove the food from the trash and force the student to eat it while other students watched.


Video from the cafeteria surveillance cameras was shown in a school district disciplinary hearing held Dec. 13.