Ellison: Can’t block students from graduation for lunch debt

Published 7:51 am Thursday, May 16, 2019

ST. PAUL — Minnesota school districts cannot block students from graduation ceremonies over unpaid lunch debt, Attorney General Keith Ellison said Wednesday.

Ellison issued a written opinion citing two state laws governing school lunches and lunch aid. He says participation in a graduation ceremony “cannot be restricted by your ability to afford your life.”

Ellison said his opinion comes at the request of Education Commissioner Mary Cathryn Ricker, and after Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid said some districts were blocking students with meal debt from participating in graduation ceremonies.

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It also followed publicity over an $8,000 donation from Valerie Castile, mother of slain motorist Philando Castile, so that seniors at Robbinsdale Cooper High School in New Hope could graduate without debt.