Paying With Pennies Lands Middle Schoolers In Detention

29 Readington Middle School students earned two days detention after paying for their lunch with pennies. School administrators took the penny treatment a sign of disrespect towards cafeteria workers, who eventually collected 5,800 pennies.

“At first it started out as a joke, then everyone else started saying we’re protesting against like how short our lunch is,” student Alyssa Concannon said.

Several lunch ladies who had to do the counting didn’t think it was funny, even though some of the students put the coins in rolls. They’re not authorized to put in their two cents but school officials say they felt disrespected and other students didn’t get to eat lunch.

“There are ways to express yourself that are not disruptive to other kids and disrespectful to staff,” said Readington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorden Schiff.

Eighth grader Jenny Hunt said in hindsight, the prank may have been a bad idea.

“Maybe we should have thought before we did it,” Hunt said.

Student Sarah Henschel added: “There was no rule in the rulebook about it. It was just unfair. It’s U.S. currency.”

Students Punished After Buying Lunch With Pennies [CBS]
PREVIOUSLY: The Treasury Secretary Hates The Penny. Do You?
(Photo: Getty)

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  1. MustyBuckets says:

    Maybe if more schools gave kids more than 20 minutes to eat, this wouldn’t have been an issue in the first place.

    • AnthonyC says:

      My middle school had half-period lunches. That’s 22.5 minutes. And if you happened to have your previous class in another wing, you’d likely be waiting about 10 minutes to buy lunch.

  2. Ghede says:

    I’ve never needed more than 20 minutes to eat anyways. Of course, I lived with two gluttonous brothers, my garbage-disposal father, and my poor starving mother… she just wasn’t fast enough. I kid. She was a real threat too. If I didn’t eat fast, I didn’t eat.

  3. parad0x360 says:

    @Ghede: You arent considering the 10+ min some kids have to wait in line to get their lunch. Not everyone brings a bagged lunch.

  4. Skankingmike says:

    HAH i love it! Only in NJ would you get that. Readington is a pretty well to do area in NJ too. Wouldn’t be surprised if some lawyer isn’t brought in over it.

    As a up and coming teacher i would reward students who did this out of protest, it’s unfair to students who have to wait in line for 15 mins for lunch only to get 5 minutes to woof down some horribly prepared food.

    Next time they should pay with hundred dollar bills.

  5. azntg says:

    A rather cruel joke, I must admit. But then a short lunch break is a cruel joke in and by itself (ask any New York City public high school student trying to get food in a cafeteria line within 30 minutes). And two days of detention over paying in pennies?

    What’s next? A day of hard labor for paying a $2 debt with a genuine $100 bill?

  6. soulman901 says:

    Those kids are too happy in that picture and the food looks overly fresh. Where do you guys find these pictures?

    Also by the way I’m not sure why the school is punishing the kids since they paid in Legal Tender and not in Monopoly Money.

  7. MormonJay says:

    @Ghede: it’s not about how much time it takes you to eat it, it’s about how long those damn lunch lines are. at my school it takes me a good 20 minutes standing in line if i’m not the first person there, and my lunch is only 30 minutes long, minus the time it takes me to walk there from the other side of the campus. so in reality most kids only have about 5 minutes to eat a full lunch. most of the time the long lines are a result of the fact that the cafeteria workers are very incompetent and can’t serve the food fast enough or work a cash register quickly.

  8. Faerie says:

    20 minutes lunches? Wow, that’s unbearably short.

  9. PeanutButter says:

    It’s U.S. currency. Are they going to make a rule that you can’t use pennies?

    @parad0x360: I agree. I know that at my school, it takes at least 10 minutes to get lunch, even though we have 3 lunch lines. Also, not everyone brings a lunch.
    I don’t think it would kill anyone to give those kids a bit longer lunch period.

  10. victor123 says:

    Wow, we sure don’t want to allow our kids to question authority. The school should have used this as an educational moment to teach kids about the process to make appeals, how to correctly petition authorities but rather, they chose to punish the behavior making one believe that the school system is more of a “reward/punish” institution rather than an learning institution.

    • kabamm says:

      I sure am glad I went through middle school in the 1970s. I’m pretty sure we had a 45 minute lunch period.

  11. alstein says:

    Hell, that’s only a few minutes longer then basic training.

    Those kids should sue the school- isn’t a penny legal tender for all debts public and private? I’m sure there’s something on the books that would allow them to take action.

    • AnthonyC says:

      I don’t know the conditions of the school district in question, but 20 minute lunches may not mean there was overcrowding, understaffing, or anything of the sort.

      My middle school had 20 minute lunches and it certainly didn’t suffer from those problems. Elementary and high school each got at least 40 minutes. The difference? If you give middle schoolers more free time with less supervision, you get a lot more problems than with either younger or older students. So they shorten the lunch as much as possible to keep kids occupied. This, at least, was the best explanation anyone ever gave me for the ridiculousness of 20 minutes to both buy and eat lunch. It makes sense, since we also had 3 minutes between classes, one-wa hallways and separate up and down staircases.

    • Conformist138 says:

      Actually, funny thing a teacher pointed out when I was in high school: bills are marked with the “for all debt” stuff, but coins are not. There are places that don’t allow payment in coins and this is how they do it- they are not obligated to take piles of pennies for a debt. Still, this was beyond retarded to suspend them. I mean, look, 20 kids pay in pennies and the school said some kids DIDN’T GET TO EAT! seriously? their lunch is SO short that 20 students with pennies can cause a big enough jam that kids go hungry? and no one noticed that this actually proves the students’ point perfectly?

  12. Zclyh3 says:

    WTF. Pennies is still legal tender in this country. While it is quite disrespect to pay in that amount especially for a school lunch, administrators had NO right to give these kids detention. Unless the country abolished pennies, it’s still money and they have to accept it. I wouldn’t be surprised if I saw a lawsuit about this issue because after all, we do live in the United States.

  13. etho says:

    Students definitely need a longer lunch time. But using pennies to pay is not the right way to get that. It only inconveniences the cafeteria workers, who have a hard enough job as it is, and they have no control over how long the lunch period is anyway.

    A good way to go about it would be to save all your leftovers for a week, or a month, or whatever, dump them into a sealed box, then deliver it to the school board with a note that says “We don’t have enough time to eat an adequate lunch.”

  14. Amelie says:

    Did you ever stop to think why they only get 20 minutes?

    In many schools, overcrowding and small cafeterias mean that students have to eat in shifts.

    But the most likely reason is that with all the pressure from “No Child Left Behind,” time can’t be wasted on frivolous pursuits such as lunch, much less recess.

    *Fondly remembers the 45 minute lunch and recess/free-time.

  15. FessLove says:

    Absolutely rediculous. Detention for using pennies? Whoever administered this punishment should be fired. Usually I side with the staff when students whine about this or that, but this is just obsurd. I wish I was on their schoolboard.

  16. spamtasticus says:

    FYI. buying something is not a dept. That is a huge missconception. A store can legally tell you they will not accept a certain denomination of legal tender. As far as the detention is concerned, the school needs to take a damn chill pill.

    • ChemicalFyre says:

      I didn’t believe you at first – but I looked it up. This is actually true. The ‘Legal for all debts, public and private’ bit doesn’t take effect unless the currency is refused as a payment type, not individual coinage or bill size.

  17. Eating fast is very unhealthy. Chewing your food properly is the first step in proper digestion, and proper health.

    Also, our fast paced fast food lifestyle is considered the difference between America and countries like France where they enjoy a meal. It is part of an important ritual. The enjoyment of a good meal is representative of a less stressful ad healthy lifestyle. The French don’t have super healthy diets, but it may be the fact that they take time to enjoy food that is one key to living a longer healthier life.

  18. alstein says:

    shifts are ok for lunches, but it should be 30 minutes.
    By comparison, US Air Force regulations in basic training mandate a minimum of 10 minutes eating time. With coming to and from and waiting in line, I doubt they even get that (note: in actual basic training, the 10 minutes rarely happens)

  19. Amelie says:

    One example: “Local administrators say they are concerned about nutrition but have to worry about federal and state education reforms, which require more and more learning every school day. They admit that as a result, lunch and recess time for children is being squeezed…….the federal No Child Left Behind act are putting pressure on schools to find the time to meet their requirements.”

    [www.ecnnews.com]

  20. GhettoGodfather says:

    I’d love to see this make the national news when a lawsuit is brought because of it. I have a second grader who comes home and eats a “second lunch” because she didn’t get enough time to eat hers in school.

  21. etho says:

    @etho:

    And, actually, there’s usually laws saying that kids have to be in class for a certain number of hours each day. I wonder if they’d really want more time to eat if it meant the school day was an hour longer.

    Basically, these kids were just being brats, except they were being self-righteous brats, which is even more obnoxious. I see nothing wrong with giving them detention.

    @arstal:
    Well, it doesn’t say anywhere that they weren’t allowed to buy lunch with the pennies, just that they received detention for doing so. Nobody was claiming it was illegal, or refusing to accept it, just that it was disruptive and disrespectful, which it certainly was, so I don’t think there’s any way the kids could sue.

  22. boxjockey68 says:

    @FessLove: I agree, why is it wrong to pay with actual MONEY?

  23. Amelie says:

    The kids are directing their anger at the wrong source. It’s not the lunch ladies, the school or even the district. It’s state and federal pressures to cram more into the school day and lunch is the only thing left to cut. How about they protest outside the state capital or do a letter carpet-bomb to the Education Department?

  24. forgottenpassword says:

    I remember back in the day if you werent near the beginning of the lunchline, then you spent half your lunchtime waitng in that line. One year,because my class before lunchtime was all the way at the other end of the school, I ended up having to change classes to one that was nearer the lunchroom otherwise i would probably get 6 minutes to eat my lunch.

    I say kudos to the kids who actually thought this up. It was a nice way to make a point. BOO on the uptight principal who overreacted.

  25. RoboSheep says:

    I didn’t know there were still schools that let you simply buy a meal, I thought they were all on card-based token systems.

  26. t-spoon says:

    I find it hard to believe that even 10 minutes isn’t enough time to eat.

    I mean, I definitely understand how it might not be ideal, but it’s not as if kids are going hungry because they only have 10 minutes. It’s school, lots of aspects of it sucks. Deal, crybabies.

  27. zolielo says:

    @spamtasticus: Yes similar to, “No bills over $20,” often seen at fast food joints.

    Still I hate to bound exchanges of tender for goods/services but placing, “No coins under $0.25,” or the like.

  28. Nicholai says:

    Good for the kids! Man, they deserve an award for that. And maybe some compensation for strolling into “1984” every weekday.

  29. lightaugust says:

    I’m a middle school assistant principal, and I’m all for what these kids did. Shouldn’t we be encouraging nonviolent, creative ways to protest problems? I mean, all things considered, this was so effective it got nationally noticed, which is less than I can say for most professional protesters and activists… as for calling them ‘self-righteous brats’? I’d reserve that for when they start really being disrespectful over the point.

  30. lukobe says:

    Bring your freakin’ lunch, kids.

  31. sleepydumbdude says:

    My old school has a prepay card type thing now. My sister had to use it where they don’t accept money in the regular school lunch line. If you want to use money then you go to the a la carte or vending machines.

  32. MrMold says:

    Let’s all get together and lynch the lesser beings. You know, those who are worth less than we. Lunch ladies have no rights and no claim to humanity. They should just put up with our hissy fit because, as low-wage workers, they just should. Like the retail clerks. Thinking they are equal is just wrong.

    You-all disgust me. It is not correct to punish the lunch staff because life is tough for you. Either suck it up or make changes. “Kicking the dog” is the response of fools, knaves, and cowards.

  33. nequam says:

    They are being punished for a prank, not merely for using pennies. It’s one thing if you use a few pennies as part of your payment, but these kids went of their way to bring in loads of pennies on purpose to create a disturbance.

    Still, it was a clever protest for the kids. Rather than giving detention, the school should have turned the event into an opportunity to study examples of successful nonviolent protests in history. Make the kids write essays — children always see that as a punishment.

  34. Buran says:

    I don’t know how they can legally do this. Pennies are legal tender, and you have the right to petition the government for redress of grievances. Isn’t the school, as a public institution, an arm of government?

    Or are they using the doublespeak that’s all too common these days of “yes, you can do it but we don’t have to like it”?

  35. timmus says:

    Also by the way I’m not sure why the school is punishing the kids since they paid in Legal Tender and not in Monopoly Money.

    Legal tender is only used in the context that it MUST be accepted by a creditor to settle a debt. The lunch lady is not a creditor, so she is entitled to refuse pennies if they decide to enact such a policy.

  36. toddiot says:

    High schools in Canada get an hour to eat lunch, and I’m quite pleased with this setup.

  37. thesabre says:

    Pennies are indeed legal tender. If the cafeteria did not accept them, that would be a completely different issue. But they DID accept the pennies. They just decided to give the students detention for causing an unnecessary disturbance in the process.

    It’s not as though the police were called or the kids were arrested. Detention is an disciplinary action well within the bounds of the school’s authority. No one said what the kids did was illegal, just disruptive.

    Both entities were well within their rights to do what they did.

  38. dandd says:

    Schools do this all the time. Students find a way to creatively protest anything and they start handing out detentions and/or suspensions.

    Even if you find a way to make a statement without breaking any rule, the school just tells you that you are in the wrong anyway. (and you are going to be punished)

  39. aphexbr says:

    @FessLove: “Absolutely rediculous. Detention for using pennies? Whoever administered this punishment should be fired. Usually I side with the staff when students whine about this or that, but this is just obsurd. I wish I was on their schoolboard.”

    Erm, damn. Maybe you need to double check how to spell words like ridiculous and absurd before you start applying to sit on school boards…

    Anyway, it’s not so ridiculous. Their actions, regardless of the reasons behind them, did cause disruption and affected the study of other kids (the ones waiting in line behind them). These actions warrant detention under school rules. So detention was gives.

    “It’s not fair!”. Welcome to life. I hope that other students protest the detention and back the original cause, but the fact is that change takes sacrifice and it’ll take more than a longer line than normal at the lunch queue one day to change the school’s policies. Realistically, that’s all they achieve and may result in the school switching to cards rather than actually change their break rules.

  40. selectman says:

    Must be a slow consumer-related news day.

  41. ClayS says:

    So what is the solution to the short lunch period? Add 20 minuntes to the school day and make lunch 40 minutes? Would that work for the students? How about the teachers?

    If the students are mature enough to protest, they should have proposed a resolution as well.

  42. EYESONLY says:

    Don’t any of the people who post comments here actually read the full article?! The kids freely admit that they never spoke up about the short lunch period before going on to the penny prank. I’m all for non-violent protest when it’s called for, but this (“At first it started out as a joke, then everyone else started saying we’re protesting against like how short our lunch is”) sounds much more like a prank that got rationalized as a “protest.”

    And that last kid quoted in the article–“There was no rule in the rulebook about it. It was just unfair. It’s U.S. currency”–yeah, sounds like you’re going to make a fine citizen one day… the kind that belittles waiters and mistreats anyone you perceive as “beneath” you.

  43. BlinkyGuy says:

    @zouxou: The kids are protesting at the center of the problem. To call it disrespectful to the staff is a crappy ploy by the school administration to line up support for itself by claiming to champion the workers.

    Stopping by an office supply store to get a couple of cheap plastic tubes to count and wrap the coins would make the protest much more inconvenient for the kids than the staff and the action would die a natural death as people got tired of lugging all those pennies to school. But why take a rational step when a show of force is what is obviously called for? “Bring it on,” as Mr. Bush says. Maybe we can arrest the kids for numismatistic threatening.

    I guess it is a changed world. We no longer encourage kids to defend their rights. As a senior citizen, I am amazed that people are not in the streets protesting the war in Iraq and the removal of their personal freedoms by the Bush administration. Unfortunately, if my legs were good enough to march, I would probably forget where I was going and get lost.

    Power to the Penny!

  44. mattbrown says:

    Good job Kids! I love it!

    Reminds me of the time me and a few friends organized a walkout because we didn’t get any snow days one year. Oh… rich, white, suburban kids; how I love ‘em.

  45. opsomath says:

    That’s hilarious. I would totally reward my kid for pulling this off…maybe see if we could get an article in the local paper with a nice picture of the detention-giver looking like he has a stick up his ass.

  46. fargle says:

    Geez, these guys have no sense of humor these days.

    I did that when I was a kid once – used to have a lunchlady who would pretty much verbally abuse you if you didn’t have your 50 cents out and ready at the end of the line. So one day I took a roll of pennies with me and cracked it open into her hand.

    She never gave me a hard time again. And I didn’t get detention.

  47. timsgm1418 says:

    when my daughters were in elemtary school, it started at 9:00 and their lunch was at 10:30 WTF? who can eat lunch at 10:30. Whenever they had an hour delay for snow or something, their first period would be lunch. The school I went to for elementary school didn’t have a cafeteria, so everybody brought their lunch, when you got done, you went out for recess. I know they can’t do that because of free/reduced lunches but geez 20 minutes is way too short. Extend the school day by 10 minutes to give them some extra time. For most elemtary and middle students it would just be 10 less minutes for the kids to be left unsupervised. I guess that would mess up the bus schedules, but then again another reason to not bus kids….@GhettoGodfather:

  48. wilmawonker says:

    I can’t believe so many people are calling this ridiculous, I’m so proud of these little protesters! It’s the lunchroom equivalent of a sit-in. Go baby hippies, go!

  49. mgy says:

    I do my student teaching in a class that comes in immediately after lunch. The teacher allows them to bring in their lunch if they didn’t have time to eat it, and hang out for a few minutes. The class is an hour and a half, and the short break at the beginning seems to keep the kids calm for the rest of the period.

  50. ohiomensch says:

    @PeanutButter:

    I suppose a rule against using cents wouldn’t be any different than cities that have enacted ordinances to prevent people from paying fines/tickets in cents.

  51. timsgm1418 says:

    @aphexbr:At the school my kids went to in Phoenix, you bought tickets for lunch 2 weeks in advance, which the school kept track of, and you bought in the morning before school started, no change needed…might not be a bad idea..

  52. timsgm1418 says:

    @mgy: that’s a great idea

  53. Arrngrim says:

    All this “that’s wrong of them not to accept the pennies” and “omg they only get 20 minutes!” talk merely reinforces the PROBLEM these deliquent children caused.

    Guess what, more children COULDN’T even EAT during this fiasco they caused. Why? Because during 20 minutes, they wasted more time causing a disturbance.

    I give the school kudo’s for taking this action, too many parents are “Omg, you can’t do that to my child”, and then they are raised to be the worst excuse of a human being there is.

    I’m not ancient, but I received my just desserts as a child when I transgressed. I feel it made me a better person, I respect others until they prove they are unworthy.

    Children need to fear the repercussions of their actions if they are to grow and develop into a good addition to our society.

    Frankly, IMHO, we need Capital Punishment in our schools.

  54. Galls says:

    “At first it started out as a joke, then everyone else started saying we’re protesting against like how short our lunch is,” student Alyssa Concannon said.”
    -
    -
    -
    -
    -
    Clearly this child has too long of a lunch break, she needs more schooling, specifically in English. Although the idiotic “like, um like, you know like” is a problem that is viral in our youth generation.
    -
    -
    -
    Try getting a job you stupid bitch if in the interview you regress to using like, like ever sentence.

  55. Galls says:

    @Arrngrim: I agree the parents obviously cannot raise their kids, look at how decedent the generation is. Teachers should be allowed to beat on the brats. They would not be disrespectful after that.

  56. D-Bo says:

    more school admins acting like jackasses… an all too common situation in our public school system

  57. Buran says:

    @timmus: It’s one thing to say “no, you can’t pay this way” and another to essentially call the police on customers. No crime was committed.

  58. forgottenpassword says:

    @Arrngrim:

    So you think kids should be put to death in school? ;)

    Dont you mean corporal punishment instead of capital punishment?

    I think a protest like this is appropriate when the powers that be dont even want to listen to student’s concerns/complaints.

  59. mac-phisto says:

    overall, these sound like great kids – they thought up an idea, organized it beforehand & followed thru (how many of us were that ambitious at the age of 13?) & according to the article, they brought in cards for the lunch ladies to apologize afterwards.

    i’m proud of them – protest or prank, these kids show insight & thoughtfulness – rare for kids their age.

    now, where’s the line start for the tots?

  60. BlinkyGuy says:

    @Galls: If you want to comment on someone’s language skills, you should be cranking out A+ work instead the poor punctuation you use.

    Aside from that, what do you think is more offensive: poor English or calling a kid a stupid bitch?

  61. Arrngrim says:

    @forgottenpassword:

    Negative, I definitely intended “capital punishment”, we have enough bad apples in this world, we need to weed them out of the gene pool as early as possible.

    I would not go so far as to say that they should be put on the rack immediately, everyone is justified a warning or two concerning their behavior.

    There is a REASON children are so troublesome and deserving of my ire, and that blame lies clearly on the parents. This is America! Land of “It Ain’t Mah Fault”, it’s the teachers fault that the student is a little hellion and cannot be controlled. Yes, that is it precisely, it’s the gov’t, school, guy down the roads’ fault.

    Definitely not the neglectful parent, hell, I’d whip my kid if he came home proudly stating he had caused some poor cafeteria worker grief like this. And when the Child Protection Agency called to tell me to stop disciplining my child, I’d dare them to come try to take them.

    America’s right to “bear arms”, on a mantle above my fireplace, a pair of bear appendages, because misinterpreting the Constitution is the American way.

    A side note, I do not have children, and the reason is blatantly obvious, I detest the little creatures, and why? Neglectful parents have created 85% of children under 17 into the little hell-spawns that they are.

    /rantoff

  62. bobert says:

    According to the quotes, the kids were just goofing around, and the joke would doubtless have eventually died a natural death when they bot bored with it. But somebody interpreted it as a protest, then the school went bonkers and handed out punishments. Typical.

    When I was their age in the late 60s, a bunch of us kids had a running joke about a Sasquatch-like creature called “Bufo” who allegedly haunted the Cleveland metropolitan park system. We’d draw pictures of this hairy beast and crack entirely clean but juvenile jokes about it. Some adult overheard something, and suddenly the school was calling parents and my dad was grilling me about this horrible conspiracy.

    Then there was the junior-high origami fad. A bunch of guys got bored and started folding origami animals in class. They were all excellent students, got great grades, and it wasn’t disruptive, but it became a running joke with the kids, and so of course the school banned origami. Can’t have bored smart kids harmlessly keeping themselves occupied and having fun!

    Remember: schools must keep control at all costs, and teachers and administrators must never admit they might be wrong. Also, actions that would be perfectly legitimate for adults and are guaranteed rights in the Constitution must be strictly forbidden to children if an authority figure doesn’t like them. Otherwise the terrorists will win!

  63. Sam says:

    @timmus:

    That’s a fairly narrow definition of what constitutes a creditor. Even at school, one receives something of value against payment. It doesn’t really matter that the something of value is a school lunch, because until that meal is paid for the school (represented by the staff) functions as a creditor, while the student is the debtor.

    On the larger issue of this protest… well, that’s exactly what it is: a protest. Even our kids are allowed to get up in arms about issues that concern them, and while some can make snarky comments about bring a brown-bag lunch or how 5-10 minutes is plenty to eat, those comments are entirely beside the point; if an entity, even a school, is allowed to define the limits of debate for a citizen, then a fundamental American liberty is lost.

  64. @MustyBuckets: Word.

    I pulled this same prank in middle school… about 20 years ago. Still makes me chuckle…

  65. Galls says:

    @BlinkyGuy: Well, like, while stupid bitch, like, may have been, like I do not know, acute, it was like, rather a, like, criticism of an entire, like, generation! Who I think are, like, nothing but, like, decedent stupid bitches. Like totally.

    There are of course exceptions that prove the rule.

    “Kosovo, wasn’t that, like, already a country”

  66. R0land says:

    “There are ways to express yourself that are not disruptive to other kids and disrespectful to staff”

    True. Of course, none of those ways ever get anyone’s attention, and things never change. I applaud these kids. More kids need to be taught that protesting isn’t disrespectful. It’s what this country was founded on… literally.

  67. Sifl says:

    The thing is, while it did start as a joke of sorts, I’m very pleased that more forward thinking kids actually got the better idea to do so as a protest. I feel the detention was a bit harsh though, but I guess the administration feels it’s simply putting their foot down and trying to convince anyone else who has the gall to complain that this is what’s going to happen and it will get worse.

    While the kids should’ve piped up and said something before, sometimes ideas form when they do and you have to take the initiative on them. In this case, a peaceful protest formed as a result of quick thinking. Emphasis on the word PEACEFUL.

    Now, the SMART think would the administration getting the hint that if this could happen once, it could happen again [despite the aforementioned detention deterrent] and call a school assembly or take a classroom poll and bring out the democractic process. That would be a far better lesson for these children. [Sure it fails for most adults, but it doesn't mean that there isn't hope with the children of this actually working beyond this.]

  68. Arrngrim says:

    “schools must keep control at all costs, and teachers and administrators must never admit they might be wrong. Also, actions that would be perfectly legitimate for adults and are guaranteed rights in the Constitution must be strictly forbidden to children if an authority figure doesn’t like them. Otherwise the terrorists will win!”

    I apologize for the copy and paste, but this made me laugh. Ever wonder WHY the schools must maintain an iron-fist authority? It’s because the children are undisciplined whelps and they feel they know everything there is to know on this Green Planet.

  69. I like how the story and the school ignore the fact that pennies are legal tender (even though they are an outdated concept) and therefore not refuseable as payment. They may feel that is was snarky and disrespectful, but in the reality of the world, if you got this type of treatment from a business, you would have a good beef, on legal grounds.

    I love our schools. Teaching kids to keep their heads down and their mouths shut.

  70. azntg says:

    @Arrngrim: If it comes to the point where students are protesting and in the process exacerbating the original pre-existing conditions, that should say something. It’s no accident, it’s deliberate, making your point moot.

    You got your just desserts while growing up? Good for you and I genuinely hope it continues to work well for you for the rest of your life.

    Think of me however you wish, but I can’t help but feel that those complaining about the students’ actions and applauding the administration’s rather poor response are probably the same people who grew up (and are likely still living) with a hard stick up their derriere.

    There’s a clear difference between getting your just desserts after transgressing like a senseless brat and getting punished for something that’s inherently and patently unfair.

  71. Arrngrim says:

    @azntg: I believe, as others have stated before, the children are protesting to the wrong medium. As I pointed out, and you acknowledged, they created a disturbance by exacerbating the original condition.

    If they were TRULY intelligent, they would have gotten petitions and taken this to the gov’t. Instead, they gave some poor, underpaid workers a bunch of grief. In my book, that equates to a belt on the bottom.

    I am certainly NOT arguing whether the 20 minutes is fair or unfair, I really could care less how much time they get to eat because they should be happy they get to eat at all. Some children in other countries do not get this luxury. Be grateful.

    Former military, I learned that you can finish a meal in far less than 20 minutes when required.

    This stems from the typical angry child disliking their school, which circles back to my original point.

    Capital punishment.

  72. cmoz2008 says:

    What about the teachable moments? Mini-lesson for students: Saving one penny at a time pay offs. Since some places have outsourced cafeteria services, school lunch is nothing but a make-money biz. Think more Peanut-Butter-Jelly sandwiches for kids who are penny-less! Mini-lesson for cafeteria staff: Investing in coin counter solves the problem while encourages saving! I don’t see the logic in giving students detention for using legal tender (not like they’re using fake or Canadian coins or anything).

    I’ve seen real problems though: for some, school lunch might be the ONLY meal they have in the day. A few years ago, one student told me he felt sick first thing in the morning because his family had nothing to eat the night before. Their food stamps were cut! It’s time to give grown-ups some detention!

  73. witeowl says:

    @Galls: The current generation is full of dead people?

    @Everything else: The issue here is not whether or not students had a right to pay with pennies; they certainly did and do. They also have the right to peaceful protest. However, schools have bigger issues than the “rights” of students. (Who, as minors, arguably have no rights.)

    No, I’m not kidding. Let’s look at some rights and reasons schools have for forbidding them:

    - the right to peaceably assemble: staff is ever-wary of the risk of gangs and fights breaking out and will often unofficially “break up” most large groups during lunch

    - the right to free speach: aside from foul language, imagine the chaos if students were allowed to stand on desks and decry the need for algebra

    - the right to bear arms: now I’m just being silly

    Now, look at all of these infringed rights. What is at the heart of every limitation? The safety, comfort, and ability to learn of fellow students. That’s what’s being punished here: the disruption of school proceedings.

    Administration would be irresponsible to allow this to go without consequence.

  74. witeowl says:

    @Arrngrim: Do you mean corporal punishment?

  75. LionelEHutz says:

    These kids need to be taught early how to be submissive to au-thor-i-tay. How else can we expect them to suffer at the hands of abusive TSA employees if they won’t even submit to the lunchroom workers.

  76. Xkeeper says:

    And, actually, there’s usually laws saying that kids have to be in class for a certain number of hours each day. I wonder if they’d really want more time to eat if it meant the school day was an hour longer.

    @etho: What planet are you on where extending something by 15-30 minutes causes the total length to go up by an hour?

    The total “time-in-class” wouldn’t even go up, so I can’t see how anybody would be against a 10-30min extension.

  77. witeowl says:

    @PotKettleBlack: To a certain extent, you are correct. Look back at the history of free education. It started with one purpose: to keep low class kids off the streets (and out of crime). They added a second purpose shortly thereafter: to prepare low class children for a life of labor.

    Sure, schools have improved. Now, the purpose is to prepare all students for a life in the corporate world. So yeah, keep your mouth shut and your head down.

    (Note: I do not agree with these primary objectives of the school system. My primary objective as a teacher is to create empowered young adults capable of thinking critically while exhibiting thoughtfulness towards others.)

  78. Hoss says:

    What’s all the hot air about this not being legal? There are lots of things that are legal that you can’t do in school. School is for learning as well as being a good citizen. And if you want to by a bowl of soup with 539 pennies, I don’t think I know anyone that will be fine with it

  79. Arrngrim says:

    @witeowl: Nope, scroll up, I definitely mean captial.

    About the time increase, I’m ABSOLUTELY certain the children would say “Nay” on increasing their time of release by 15 to 30 minutes, even if the increase ratio of lunch time and release time added was 1:1. Seriously, this is just kids whining about being IN school, and being undisciplined little brats.

  80. 0x12is18 says:

    This is a great example of civil disobedience. When kids feel that they are being treated unfairly, they have a right to speak up. If no one listens, then by all means do something simple and meaningful such as this. No one got hurt and the point was made (whether it was duly noted is another matter).

  81. 0x12is18 says:

    @Hossofcourse: It’s not about whether someone is okay with it or not. Pennies are still legal tender.

  82. Sherryness says:

    When the use of pennies is felt as a torture device and used as a tool of protest, it might be time to archive them and find a better use for the copper.

  83. JustAGuy2 says:

    @Skankingmike:

    As an up and coming teach your should know the expression is “wolf down,” not “woof down.”

  84. cuiusquemodi says:

    @Galls: Because in your day, all middle schoolers were as eloquent as William F. Buckley, Jr.?

  85. azntg says:

    @Arrngrim: You might be ex-military (and thank you for your service to the country), but I’d like to point out that they are still growing kids!

    If Readington has similar school patterns to NYC, the protesters are 11-13 year olds.

    I would agree with you that those patterns would be the first recourse and the most civilized way of going about it before resorting to other methods. But they’re not 18 or 21 years old, where you would clearly expect better and more sophistication.

    Long story short, I think it’s best not to forget how everyone grew up. While it’s easy to give the younger ones the “What the hell were you thinking?” and view everything they do in an alarming tone, chances are, we probably did the same thing ourselves in some form at their age.

    Ah well, I guess I’ll try to keep that in mind when I begin to teach Chemistry to high school students in a few years.

  86. Hoss says:

    @nwogoldberg99: Sorry, I don’t know what your comment means. A seller is not obligated to take currency in all juristictions

  87. Arrngrim says:

    @everyone that feels this was okay because it was legal tender:

    Next time you are in line at a store, and you are forced to wait 20 minutes because someone decides to write a check (oh wait, the machine denied it), use a card (oh wait, the machine denied it), just a sec, I’ll dig through my purse for some change. And they drop $5 in pennies and pay with that. You, as a consumer on your personal time, are forced to endure 20 minutes of waiting thanks to the idiocy of someone else.

    My analogy is vague at best, but my point is just because it’s legal doesn’t mean it’s “right”. These little brats caused a disturbance instead of using proper channels. Far worse than “detention” would happen to those who did not use the proper channels in the real world, especially in the shadier parts of the world. They were not even suspended for goodness sake! Get over it! I’m done ranting in this thread, the world is definitely going into it’s death spiral.

  88. QueenHawkeye says:

    That reminds me when I was in 5th grade. We had only 20 minutes to eat lunch. Add in the time lining up for lunch and if you were lucky, you had 10 minutes to gobble everything down.

    Pennies are currency, weather the school likes it or not. I suspect that the school district will get some angry parent phone calls soon. The school has a right to run the school the way they want to but this getting out of hand.

  89. MustyBuckets says:

    To add to my original comment, I’d like to mention that I never had to suffer through the shortened lunches, but I was one of the last classes allowed a full lunch. My old high school now has 20 minute lunches followed by 20 minute study halls, where eating is prohibited. Times that kids spend in line have been above 15 minutes on busy days, giving these kids 5 minutes to find a seat, sit down, eat, and take care of their garbage before going off to their study hall or next class.

    That’s complete crap, in my opinion. And don’t get me started on how awful the food is to begin with (I fondly recall my school burning corn. On a regular basis. I still don’t know how they did it.)

  90. ampersand says:

    A bunch of kids did something just to be ornery and they got detention for it? What a story! I think they learned a valuable lesson here: sometimes you get called on your shit. They should serve their detentions and keep in mind that next time they want to play a prank, there could be consequences. Their rights have not been trampled and there’s no reason for us to jump to their defense on this one.

  91. Cerb says:

    The behavior of these kids was dangerlously close to questioning authority! They must be made examples of or else they might graduate thinking for themselves!

  92. timsgm1418 says:

    If the school day were increased, I seriously doubt the kids would get a say in it…nor should they, they aren’t paying the taxes that support the schools. If they have a problem they should go to their parents, and have them work with the school board for a resolution. I don’t know that I agree with a 2 day suspension, but they did hold up the line, possibly causing other children to have no time to eat at all. I also feel that if they had to carry that many pennies around for more than a couple of days, they would have given up on their own, and by holding up the line, I’m sure the other students would have uh “taken care” of the problem after school. I’m a firm believer in corporal punishment in school. The school my kids went to in Phoenix from 1987 – 1994, still had corporal punishment, and it was a public school. My son got spanked twice. Sadly for him the principal was also a friend of mine from church, when she called me to see if it was alright I said “go for it” It took twice but the little bugger quit messing with rocks and windows, and just as my parents would do, I punished him at home for making the school have to take time to punish him. I don’t think it was hard enough to hurt physically, not enough to embarrass him. Either he never did anything bad there again, or he got better at not being caught. win-win@Arrngrim:

  93. slowinthefastlane says:

    Sweet. I’m gonna try to make my mortgage payment in pennies. Chase bank, you’re gonna be sorry for buying out my debt!

  94. timsgm1418 says:

    opps meant to say just enough to embarras him

  95. timsgm1418 says:

    @slowinthefastlane: I don’t think I could carry $1800 in pennies anywhere and shipping them would be pretty expensive

  96. D-Bo says:

    @Arrngrim: If only your forward thinking policy was enacted when you were a child we wouldn’t be forced to read your asinine postings…

  97. themediatrix says:

    I think this was a great idea the kids had…it was a really appropriate reference to putting in “their two cents.” The lunch ladies should have been mad at the administrators not at the kids. This was some creative consumer action.

    The school system is foolish not to respond more respectfully toward the kids. After all, the kids could have just ordered guns off the internet and then shot out all the clocks!!!!

  98. TechnoDestructo says:

    Just tossing down a handful of pennies is a real dick thing to do, particularly if you’ve got people behind you in line.

    But putting them in rolls, or stacking them out in easily countable piles, that’s different. Unless you get some dumbshit like the cashier I once encountered, who took the 3 or 4 dollars in change I had put in stacks on the conveyor, exact change for my purchases, grabbed them all in one hand, dumped them on the counter, and re-sorted and counted them.

    @MustyBuckets:

    WTF, I know I always had at least 30. Did you go to middle school on a military training base or something?

    @Hossofcourse:

    Yeah, not every transaction is a “debt.” And coins don’t even have that statement on them.

  99. weave says:

    Regarding “not a debt” — you pick up your food before paying for it. Take a few bites out of it and, trust me, it’ll become a debt. They are not just going to let you walk away from the tray without paying for it.

  100. Arrngrim says:

    @D-Bo: Ah, not quite. I was disciplined as a child, and learned quickly right from wrong, and I live a life where I try not to infringe on others lives overtly so.

    As for my “asinine postings”, I speak only truth on these matters. Great comeback though, you were very detailed about why my truths might possibly be incorrect (in your eyes).

    And here I stated I was done with this thread, bah!

  101. humphrmi says:

    If it’s so disruptive, why didn’t the school’s cafeteria just stop taking pennies?

  102. Nicholai says:

    @Sam: You Hit the nail on the head. As supreme court justice Abe Fortas said, “neither students nor teachers shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate”
    …..Woops. To late. The megalomaniacal teachers will make sure that never happens.

  103. edrebber says:

    It looks like the school administrators need a lesson in personal responsibility. The students presented the pennies as payment for their lunch. The cafeteria worker chose to accept the pennies as payment and the burden of counting the pennies.

    Furthermore, the penny is official United States Currency and a symbol of our country. It’s Anti-American for the school administration to attach a negative connotation to any denomination of United States currency. The school adminsitration appears to be part of the left wing hate America crowd.

  104. no.no.notorious says:

    @soulman901: GETTY IMAGES!!

  105. Jcakes says:

    Ah, the luxury of the 50 minute lunch!!

    Who to sit with? Who to avoid? Who to be seen talking to? Who to give your extra tots: future friend or political ally? When will that cute boy come over to talk to me? Why is he talking to HER? I hate that boy!

    That and throwing away your entire tray because it’s not cool to be seen actually EATING your your lunch.

  106. peggyhill says:

    ‘that’s the third independent thought alarm this afternoon’.

  107. littlejohnny says:

    he he. When I was in high school, we weren’t allowed to pay with anything higher than a ten. But the ATM machines only spit out twenties. So every once in a while you’d only have a twenty and have to explain it to the cashier who would always take it after complaining for a minute. The funny part. Every time I got more than $20 in change. Typically you’d get a ten, 2 fives and a bunch of ones. It made me think that the reason for this rule is that the cashiers couldn’t compute the change that high. And yes, they had electronic cash registers.

  108. Blackneto says:

    at least they didn’t try to pay with $2 bills.
    the principle would have probably called the cops.

    [www.snopes.com]

  109. picantel says:

    My 7 year old never gets to finish his lunch because they are just too short. If the school put my kids in detention for paying with pennies they would find a very angry parent at their door.

  110. KogeLiz says:

    “At first it started out as a joke, then everyone else started saying we’re protesting against like how short our lunch is,” student Alyssa Concannon said.”
    This kid didn’t even know WHY she was handing the staff pennies… she just did it along with everyone else.

    The kids were being dicks. This resulted in the employees having to spend a lot of time counting pennies and unable to complain, kids who had to wait in line and not having time to actually eat.

    But then again, kids (and a lot of adults) don'[t think about the other people who have to deal with their unnecessary crap)

  111. mferrari says:

    @MustyBuckets: exactly
    We get about 35 minutes to eat but we are called up by table to get in line. It’s like that so there isn’t a huge crowd up getting food. But, there are 30 tables and if you in the last 5-10, you start eating by the time everyone else is finished, and have almost no time. It’s okay though, because they are always understocked and if you go up late all of the non-diarrhea-inducing food has been picked over and you are left with a freaking skim milk and low-fat Doritos.

  112. digitalgimpus says:

    This may be partially politically motivated… the detention part anyway. NJ has been looking to mandate the use of debit cards for school lunches. Several districts have them, not sure if any “require” yet.

    They claim it’s to ensure safety (stealing lunch money), and so parents can audit what their kids eat.

    Reality: forcing families to give larger sums of money in advance means the interest that money gets in a bank account belongs to the district. They desperately needed since school boards in NJ often make insane salary (despite being a part time gig for some).

    So I wouldn’t be surprised if they used this as a way to push for change. They’ll promote it as a way to “pay faster”.

  113. frankadelic says:

    Modern day Breakfast Club!

  114. zippyglue says:

    @Arrngrim: says: “All this “that’s wrong of them not to accept the pennies” and “omg they only get 20 minutes!” talk merely reinforces the PROBLEM these deliquent children caused.

    Guess what, more children COULDN’T even EAT during this fiasco they caused. Why? Because during 20 minutes, they wasted more time causing a disturbance.

    I give the school kudo’s for taking this action, too many parents are “Omg, you can’t do that to my child”, and then they are raised to be the worst excuse of a human being there is.

    I’m not ancient, but I received my just desserts as a child when I transgressed. I feel it made me a better person, I respect others until they prove they are unworthy.

    Children need to fear the repercussions of their actions if they are to grow and develop into a good addition to our society.

    Frankly, IMHO, we need Capital Punishment in our schools.

    #1 — Good for those kids! Are we trying to train them to be receipt showing sheep at the Best Buy? I agree that we should teach kids to be responsible for their actions. But I think we’re talking about things like stealing or breaking a window, not handing pennies to the cafeteria workers. Isn’t US currency for all debts public and private?

    To be fair, I looked on the US Treasury website and found this:

    I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn’t this illegal?

    The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” which states: “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”

    This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

    #2 – Maybe the kids could stage a revolution on Chicken Finger Day!

    #3 – I hope you mean Corporal Punishment.

  115. coold8 says:

    The penny is valid currency. Period. IF they don’t want to accept the penny, take it up with the federal government.

  116. koma3504 says:

    Ok well since it is NOT healthy to eat fast
    And they teach you this in school so these kids put 2 and 2 to together and wanted to do something about it.
    All the Doctors should get together and submit a bill to legislation to increase lunch time. While where @ it child protective services should step in as well as it has to do with the childs well being after all they are growing kinds and need there nutrition. And has anyone ever thought that since they do not have enough time to eat all of their lunch that they just eat the deserts and the sugery foods leeding to a suger high and restlessness in the first class after lunch making harder on all of the teachers?? not to mention this type of eating can lead to obesity?? Not to mention eating fast could cause ulsers at a young age.
    Is this not the time when they need their nutrition.
    I think it is time to think of the well being and not how many hours they sit in the classroom.

    Now here is the soulution take 5 minutes from each class which their is 6 that would add 30 mins making it a hour lunch. which would also give them time to digest food before going to class and perhaps during this time they could do some of there work that they did not finish in class or perhaps read a chapter or 2 of their studies. And acually add back the time took as they would still be learning.

    Feal free to send this comint to Congress.

    FYI: this site does not like Opera web browser

  117. HOP says:

    hurrah for you,edrebber, i was about to say just about the same thing

  118. StevieD says:

    Out here in the business world, I had a customer who was short on $ and needed a part. He paid with his change stash. $66 in change, maybe half of that amount in pennies. It took a single clerk most of an to count and roll his change and complete the transaction.

    The customer thought it was funny.

    The customers standing in line behind him did not.

    I can just imagine what happened in the school lunch line. Those kids are lucky to get detention. The school bully was waiting for them in the playground for the proper beatdown that they deserved.

  119. MrMold says:

    Guess what genius, the cashier has to count the coins to prevent their till from being short. You just made more work for the underpaid. How about you go to a bank or a change machine?

  120. JollyJumjuck says:

    So the children weren’t given warnings, but just flat out detention? Sounds like these kids learned a valuable lesson: in life, there are complete assholes (e.g. the school administration who gave them detention) who will fuck you up just because they are on a power trip and have to show others “who the boss is.”

    When they are older, these kids won’t be harassed by store employees for not showing a receipt on exit, nor will they be tazed by a police officer because they didn’t keep their eyes on the ground when they were being spoken to. No, these kids will learn that by being good little sheep, they can avoid the petty and malicious punishments dreamed up by those with a little bit of power.

  121. ancientsociety says:

    Public schools are intended to produce obedience not responsible, intelligent citizens.

  122. Arrngrim says:

    Sheep? You people seriously think too much like “The Matrix”. This wasn’t about them being good little sheep, this was about the little brats causing trouble for hard-working, low paid employee’s, AND the other poor little brats behind them who DIDN’T get to eat that day.

    As others posted, probably the entire lot of the mouth-breathers were only following along because they thought it “was funny” and “a joke”, only when they received well-deserved punishment for their idiotic actions did it suddenly become “a petition against the terrible lunch times”.

    Again, I reiterate, I know the difference between corporal and capital, scroll back up, I did not typo.

  123. cjdmi says:

    From the article, we know several things.

    1) The lunches are short, possibly 20 minutes not counting time waiting in line.

    2) One student decides it would be funny to pay with pennies, inconveniencing the lunch staff and every student in line behind him.

    3) The ~joke~ is repeated on subsequent days by a growing number of students.

    4) There were no complaints about the short lunch prior to detention, at which point the word ‘protest’ is retroactively applied.

    Many of the commenters here seem to be misrepresenting the facts. I appreciate the idea of protesting injustices, but that’s not what happened here. There was no ‘protest’… just a bunch of students who thought it would be funny to be jerks. The detention is very appropriate for their actions. They need to learn that it’s ok to complain about school policies, but not in a way that screws up the system for everyone in line behind them.

  124. humphrmi says:

    @coold8: Look at the post above. Businesses don’t have to take any currency in any amount you hand them.

  125. krunk4ever says:

    There’s actually a law against using excessive coins for a purchase. Let me see if I can lookup that law. Something similar happened when some guy tried to pay a Best Buy purchase with all $2 bills, but fortunately, he was using bills instead of coins.

  126. misslisa says:

    I faced the ungodly short lunchtime when I entered high school way back in 1978. I found a unique way to deal with it: I simply ate a huge breakfast, skipped lunch, then ate when I got home from school. It didn’t take long to train my body to regard this as the norm and not get hungry. All the drugs helped :)

  127. renilyn says:

    @Faerie: Oh I cant agree more. The lunch time at my son’s grade school is only 12 minutes. It’s insane. These kids don’t deserve detention, they deserve a medal.

    Sick part about my son’s school… they added an hour onto the school day and they STILL only have 12 minutes to eat.

  128. welsey says:

    This isn’t the greatest “protest” and I don’t doubt that these kids were just fucking around and later decided to make it a protest on an issue they hadn’t even previously brought up to administration. They’re what, 12? Forgive them for not thinking things through very clearly or effectively at that age.

    This article brings up so many of the issues currently plaguing education, which is a giant bureaucratic mess at the moment. No Child Left Behind is so hated among people who study educational policy it’s basically off-limits as an essay/discussion topic because it’s all we’d ever talk about. It’s a horrible system.

    And although current thought is definitely moving more towards democratic classrooms and de-emphasizing control over allowing students to learn and taking a more holistic view towards education – there is still a huge emphasis on very strict classroom management. The army still epitomizes what many people in education feel would be perfect classroom behavior.

  129. tkr5 says:

    Attitude is really the key here. If the kids were nice while paying that way, and they hadn’t previously been told to stop doing it, I can’t see how it is possibly disrespectful. And, sure, it was “disruptive”, but so many other things that are or should be allowed are too. [questioning the teacher, reading slowly, looking different]. People need to be a little less sensitive and “assume good faith” first.

    Anyway, going against the grain and drawing attention to wrongs has always involved personal sacrifice. I just hope these kids don’t get their spirits squashed by this experience. We need more heros.

  130. witeowl says:

    @picantel: And what if your child had even less time to eat because he/she was stuck behind the students paying in pennies?

  131. krunk4ever says:

    Okay, it wasn’t about legality, but I did find this: [treasury.gov]

    Question I thought that United States currency was legal tender for all debts. Some businesses or governmental agencies say that they will only accept checks, money orders or credit cards as payment, and others will only accept currency notes in denominations of $20 or smaller. Isn’t this illegal?

    Answer The pertinent portion of law that applies to your question is the Coinage Act of 1965, specifically Section 31 U.S.C. 5103, entitled “Legal tender,” which states: “United States coins and currency (including Federal reserve notes and circulating notes of Federal reserve banks and national banks) are legal tender for all debts, public charges, taxes, and dues.”

    This statute means that all United States money as identified above are a valid and legal offer of payment for debts when tendered to a creditor. There is, however, no Federal statute mandating that a private business, a person or an organization must accept currency or coins as for payment for goods and/or services. Private businesses are free to develop their own policies on whether or not to accept cash unless there is a State law which says otherwise. For example, a bus line may prohibit payment of fares in pennies or dollar bills. In addition, movie theaters, convenience stores and gas stations may refuse to accept large denomination currency (usually notes above $20) as a matter of policy.

  132. zippyglue says:

    @Arrngrim: So, murdering children is okay with you? I’d call you a name but why bother, you’ve already shown who you are.

  133. krunk4ever says:

    For those thinking about responding that the school is a public institution and the cafeteria being part of this institution needs to all currencies, I found this comment on another thread:

    iamemg:

    Only the federal government (not state/local governments, as the school is) have to accept currency. For example, New York State, refuses to accept cash for all of the state license exams.

  134. jonworld says:

    This is outrageous… pennies are U.S. currency after all! Why the hell is the school penalizing students for paying with them? Stupid school administrators really need to take another look at their actions and give students a voice..student need more time to eat lunch. I recently switched high schools from a school with a 20-minute lunch period to a school with a 50-minute lunch period and I will tell you, it is so much better.

  135. kantwait says:

    I’m quite appalled at a lot of the comments I’m seeing on here, particularly the ones referring to the CHILDREN in derogatory and abusive names. They are CHILDREN and they found an interesting way to protest something that they didn’t like; so what? I suppose we should ban any freedom of expression that we find “inconvenient.” I seriously hope that any of the people on here calling them (11-13 year-olds, mind you) “bitches” and advocating excessive punishment never have kids themselves before resolving their own psychological issues that are so abundantly evident.

  136. SamTheGeek says:

    @Arrngrim: You want to kill middle schoolers? Capital Punsihment = Death, Corporal Punishment = Spanking and the like.

    @ethos, and others: The whole point here is that the kids were expressing their right to free speech. Tinker vs. Des Moines set the precedent that school punishments (like suspensions and detention) in response to these sorts of protests are restrictions on free speech. Unfortunately, most people seem to say that this is just a helicopter parent bothering the school. Today, schools have restricted the rights of their students too much. They now have codes of conduct that apply all of the time, not just when you are on the school grounds. Schools should not reach into the home.

  137. This is exactly why the penny needs to be eliminated from the mint’s production line. It cost more to produce a penny than they are worth.

  138. chartrule says:

    that must be quite the school to consider paying for lunch with legal tender to be disrespectfull

  139. jamar0303 says:

    @Sam.Nerd144: He’s said quite a few times that yes, he means capital punishment. Not that such a policy would fly with the general public- I imagine that in a real-life setting people start slowly backing away from him as soon as that’s mentioned. Mostly because advocating the death penalty for minors (especially under-15s) is socially unacceptable.

  140. TheUncleBob says:

    Public School. Why are you all acting surprised?

  141. rockergal says:

    bah, Real life isn’t fair, so I think they should just view the detention they got as a life lesson. Plus the article stated that thanks to their prank, many kids did not even get the opportunity to buy lunch.

  142. overbysara says:

    I think it’s a sweet idea. go kids go! don’t let the man get you down!

  143. mbains says:

    I think the students demonstrated amazing creativity in protesting in such a way. Although other students were ‘hurt’ by the penny-counting, sometimes it’s necessary to break a few eggs to make an omelet. I think the penny protest will eventually serve it’s purpose and the issue of short lunches clearly has the school’s attention. I remember waiting in line for more than half of my lunch time, and then scarfing down the food. It wasn’t fun. There is so much talk about making school lunches healthier to combat childhood obesity. Well it’s not exactly healthy to eat a full meal in 10 minutes.

  144. Omi says:

    Ok lets take a step back here and look at the big picture. Forget about small stuff like the laws on coins, that’s just nit-picking.

    The kids had an issue with a school policy, 20 minute lunches. In response they stage a prank/protest to draw attention to the problem. However their actions were not proper because they did not first try to go through proper channels and they inconvenienced some people.

    The school then reacts by handing out punishments. But the school did not act properly either. Instead of listening to the students grivences and using the event as an opertunity to have a civics lesson on bringing attention to problems and enacting change through proper means they handed down punisments an sent a message that said the school is apathetic to the concerns of students and that one is not allowed to challenge authority.

    So then, neither side acted perfectly properly in this case. So then which side was more inappropriate in this case?

    While the actions of the children weren’t quite called for they did hit in generally the right direction. If they had first made complaints to administratiors and gotten petitions before resorting to monkey protests then their case would have been air-tight (-1 point). Though they really should have found a way to draw attention to the problem with out inconvenienceing anyone (-1 point). But in all honesty these are kids we are talking about, they’re going to screw up a little and they’re not going to get it %100 correct (+1 point).

    Final score: -1 points.

    However the school administration is a different matter, as adults they should be held to a higher standard in their actions (0 points). Instead of taking an oppertunity to teach children about how to be a good conscientious citizen in a democracy (-1 point), they hit in completely the wrong direction and decided to demonstrate authority (-1 point). While going with the good civics lesson would have been a good demonstration on why they are the ones who deserve the authority in the school – student relationship. Further more the schools actions leave the wrong impression on kids still learning how the world works (-1 point).

    Final score: -3 points.

    Students: -1 | Administration: -3

    Yeah both sides were wrong in this case, but the school came off worse. If that wasn’t the case to begin with then this would have never been news worthy.

  145. CyberSkull says:

    If the school has a problem with students paying with pennies then they should refuse the payment. Simple as that.

  146. bigdtbone says:

    1. It’s not about the fact that pennies are legal currency. Retailers can refuse to take cash altogher. You are not paying a “debt” when you buy somthing. You are trading, and if the person who has what you want doesn’t like “real money” then they dont have to accept it.

    2. The problem is that at no time before this incident did the school make notice about changing it’s currency acceptance policy. That is, pennies had been accepted before and nothing changed that would have allowed the kids to anticipate reprocussions by using them.

    3. This was a perfect example of a peaceful protest. A petition would have been disregraded as quickly as it was handed over. This situation got attention because it required an administrator to deal with some greif. Perfect, requiring the decision makers to deal with discomfort is the number one best way to affect change.

    4. The fact that some kids didn’t get to eat lunch at all that day is totally unacceptable. It honestly does not take SOOOO much longer to count pennies than to take regular cash and make change that the time difference over $58 worth of transactions would put someone out of time. Those kids really didn’t get a fair shake to begin with.

    5. I don’t remember who made the comment but, adding 20 minutes to school lunch would add an extra hour to the school day. Have you ever tried lining up 1000 kids and squeezing them into a 400 max occupancy cafetorium? No, you havn’t. Kids eat lunch in shifts.

  147. D-Bo says:

    @Arrngrim: IMO you were raised without compassion or even the smallest amount of empathy and as such I feel sorry for you. I bet when you talk of discipline you actually mean physical abuse as surely you must have been abused as a youth to discount human life in such a way. You must live a very empty life what with no family of your own. An existence that has poisoned you to the point that you can only troll the internet calling for the death of children.

    Simply put, you advocate putting children to death. No more details are necessary to highlight your asinine posts…

  148. D-Bo says:

    @zippyglue: I’m glad somebody else thinks like I do regarding this reprehensible statement.

  149. bigdtbone says:

    @Arrngrim:

    The simple logistics of you statements don’t add up. How can all “the little brats” Be just “playing along with the prank”? Here’s an experiment for you. Go anywhere in the entire USA and walk up to 50+ seperate individuals in a row and ask them to give you change for a $5 bill in pennies. Any bets on what happens? You fail. Even less likely that kids are walking around with a spare 500 pennies in their pockets waiting to pull a prank on an unsuspecting lunch lady. This took planning, and kids plan with purpose. No school yard prank that takes 2 days to pull off is ever going to happen. But a protest that requires parents help, (And yes, their parent’s are definatly the ones who got them the pennies) totally belivable

  150. JohnnyE says:

    “There are ways to express yourself that [we will easily be able to ignore -- but we must have zero tolerance for calling unavoidable attention to a genuine problem.]” said Readington Superintendent of Schools Dr. Jorden Schiff.

    I can only hope the the kids themselves, or with the encouragement of their parents and teachers, accept their detention and then pay with pennies the next day… and then with nickels the day that pennies are forbidden, then dimes. And, the day that debit cards are forced upon them, have everyone “change their mind” at the point of payment and leave the try (and the person behind them refuse a tray that someone else had a chance to breathe/sneeze on,) etc., etc.

  151. lihtox says:

    @Arrngrim: Negative, I definitely intended “capital punishment”, we have enough bad apples in this world, we need to weed them out of the gene pool as early as possible.

    Let’s get specific here. What sorts of actions would merit the death penalty in a typical middle school? And what form of capital punishment should be used: electric chair? lethal injection? Will there be due process, or should the principal just carry a revolver around with him? (Well OK, in my middle school it would have been the assistant principal.)

    Definitely not the neglectful parent, hell, I’d whip my kid if he came home proudly stating he had caused some poor cafeteria worker grief like this.

    But not kill him? OK, that establishes some boundaries at least. What if he caused his teacher grief, or the principal?

    Next time you are in line at a store, and you are forced to wait 20 minutes because someone decides to write a check (oh wait, the machine denied it), use a card (oh wait, the machine denied it), just a sec, I’ll dig through my purse for some change. And they drop $5 in pennies and pay with that. You, as a consumer on your personal time, are forced to endure 20 minutes of waiting thanks to the idiocy of someone else.

    Would the death penalty be appropriate in this case too?

  152. arilvdc says:

    For those of you who are saying that lunch workers are underpaid, in the school district I work at they make 13.75/hr.
    Our lunches are combined with recess, and the total time for each grade is 25 minutes. I see so many kids throwing their food away because their bell has already rung. It’s so sad. Many of the kids come in after school and still have their lunches and eat them then. It’s no wonder we have so many hyperactive kids- they have to choose between food and play time.

  153. ZekeDMS says:

    Good for the kids. At my middle school, the line was routinely longer than the actual lunch period due to massive overcrowding.

    High school wasn’t a lot better, with a 20-25 minute line. Yes, you can scarf food down that fast, but it’s unhealthy. Lunch is, aside from a bit of fuel, a time for a quick mental recharge. Everyone here knows that the 30 minute break can make a world of difference when you’re dropping, and these kids aren’t getting it.

  154. Marram90 says:

    Ha, wow. Is this school truly serious? I mean, I can understand getting frustrated with lunch time and “protesting” but the school literally had no right to bring these kids into detention. First off, a penny is a perfectly good U.S. currency, albeit a currency nobody wants to use. Second off, maybe you should give them lunch hours like back in the day. I’m not old, in fact I am still in school. But I remember when I was in elementary school and we had 45 minute lunches and 30 minute recess. You’d think they’d carry on this tradition but apparently we are not educating our children enough. That should be evident in the 20 minutes that students get today to eat lunch…

    I support the students, but this wasn’t the right way to do it. Angry letters get the job done better nowadays. Or, of course, you could just complain to the “higher ups.”

  155. chiieddy says:

    The kids have been pardoned and no detentions will be seeervd unless their parents tell the schoool to do otherwise for their own kids.

    [www.boston.com]

  156. azgirl says:

    I paid for my bus fares with pennies for about 6 months when I was in high school.I think the fare was like $1.25… My Dad had a suitcase full of them- it was a great way to get rid of them. I had them all bagged up everyday. The bus driver didn’t mind after I explained…

  157. vermontwriter says:

    Our school has a policy – kids can only pay for their lunches by using the pin pad system and parents have to deposit money into that account with a personal check. But there was a time when the school refused to sell my son his lunch because he had a Canadian quarter. We live near the border, so having Canadian quarters on hand isn’t unusual. After that, he stopped getting lunch at school.

    I do agree with the students though. My own two kids get 20 minutes for lunch. This time includes the time it takes them to get to the lunch room, time spent in line, and then clean up time. All students are responsible for wiping down their tables and picking up in their area before they may leave. Clean up usually takes five minutes to get approval and get the job done. Give another five minutes to get from the upstairs classrooms to the downstairs cafeteria. In the end, they have about ten minutes to eat. I think it’s a real shame and also is one of the leading reasons kids have poor eating habits – they’ve been programmed to rush through their meal.

  158. MikeB says:

    @chiieddy: Just read the AP story, seems that the news blew the “event” out of proportion, imagine that….

    “In his e-mail, Schiff said the students described their actions as a prank and that news reports inaccurately called it a protest.”

  159. sleepydumbdude says:

    My high school only had twenty minutes. They tried to trick you into thinking it was thirty because the 5 minute bell for going to and from classes was before and after it.

  160. It’s a federal offense to disrupt a school/classroom activities in any fashion. What these kids did was take their already short lunch and make it even shorter by paying with pennies. Many more kids didn’t receive a lunch, or had to miss the next class to eat lunch, than any other previous day.

    They should be applauded to voicing their opinions in a nonviolent way, but detention seems to be a rational decision here. This was a very disruptive way to address the situation that only made matters much worse on that day.

  161. The Porkchop Express says:

    @MustyBuckets: First, the lunch ladies don’t make up the times and the school still got paid. Bringing your own food and not giving any money along with talking to the administrators would have been better.

    Second: you’re siding with middle school kids….get out of here.

  162. picantel says:

    @Arrngrim:

    I would like to nominate this post for the dumbest post of the year award. Let’s compare young school children to army life. Are you freakin kidding me? They should be grateful to have food? Lol. Why don’t we just execute them while we are at it? I have been doing volunteer consumer advocacy work for years. Americans, for the most part, are apathetic and lazy and allow themselves to be run over by big business. These children took a non violent approach to a problem that is prevalent in schools and tried to do something about it. Do you really think the governor would give a crap about a kid’s petition? I think not. Kudos to them for trying to make a change.

  163. Morac says:

    The principal rescinded the detention because of the bad publicity. Though he said if the parents still want the kids to have detention, he’ll honor their wishes.

    [ap.google.com]

  164. t-r0y says:

    “…and other students didn’t get to eat lunch.”

    What! I don’t care what the reason is, EVERY student should be given time to eat lunch. I’m betting this violated a federal or state law.

  165. detraya says:

    If they were TRULY intelligent, they would have gotten petitions and taken this to the gov’t. Instead, they gave some poor, underpaid workers a bunch of grief. In my book, that equates to a belt on the bottom.

    I’m sorry, as someone who actually did this in his senior year of high school, it just doesn’t work.

    we organized a huge petition, got more then half the school, (yes, HALF THE SCHOOL), only to present it to the principle and have him throw it away, right in front of us.

    it wasn’t even over something hard to change, we were protesting the entire sophomore class being punished for the misdeeds of one child.

  166. stopNgoBeau says:

    @Arrngrim: Capital punishment, you say. Off with their heads!

  167. stopNgoBeau says:

    Schools operate In loco parentis which is latin for “in place of the parent” (at least they used to). Schools are not democratic and are not meant to be. They should, however, be compassionate, much like a parent should be. I know if I had done some stunt like this to my parent, being sent to my room was the least of my concerns.

    While the kids did have a real reason to complain about their short lunch periods, they should have vocalized about it first.

    In the back of my mind, I can’t help but feel that this is a prank that ended up being called a protest once the judgements started dropping down on them.

  168. alstein says:

    If I was the parent of one of those kids, I”d tell the administration the kid wasn’t serving a detention, and if you want to suspend him, do so. I’ll then see you in court.

    I’d do that respectfully, but let them know that no, this isn’t right, and I”m not going to reinforce anti-educational behavior.

  169. SpdRacer says:

    That’s just funny.

  170. contro says:

    I am infuriated about this first Apple not accepting cash for an iphone purchase and now a school not accepting pennies as payment, WTF is going on with this country is it unamerican to not accept us currency as payment for anything.?

  171. ? graffiksguru says:

    @wilmawonker: I know, right, go little hippies.
    Honestly, I think they should do away with the penny, don’t ya know it cost $134 mil to make $80 million worth of pennies?

  172. AD8BC says:

    @Arrngrim: Uh, you mean Corporal Punishment… It’s more of a learning experience than capital punishment…

    And I agree with you!

  173. Trai_Dep says:

    Attaboy. Take those precocious, idealistic minds and crush the doe-eyed youngsters’ spirits underfoot. Bra. VO!

    If only the school administrators would have read Consumerist’s Ban The Penny story posted here mere days ago…

  174. Trai_Dep says:

    Humble suggestion. Make the administrators and teachers sidle up in line with the students, gather the same lunch and eat it within the same time constraints.

    Keep it up until either the system works (ha ha) or the rules are changed.

    Any big person pulling rank/taking cuts has to write on blackboard, “I am such a tool. I am such a tool…” 1,000 times.

  175. hermes77 says:

    Pennies are legal tender. You can’t not take them, unless you want a stack of treasury agents and a massive fine. However unwrapped pennies in excess of 25 are not legal tender. As for being disruptive, well that is the point of civil disobedience. Once the cafeteria decided to accept the pennies, it was on them. They didn’t have to make kids wait while they counted them, and they are under no obligation to count them. Granted they SHOULD count them, but that’s on them, not the kids. As for the kids who did not get to eat because of the line, well the school is obligated to do something so they can eat. If I were the parent of one of those kids I might be inclined to take legal action, but only after I’ attempted more gentle means of persuasion. PTA meetings, school board meetings, etc. All in all the prank / protest was a good idea, and the school played right into their hands. Finally 20 minutes might be enough time for some people to choke down some horribly prepared glop, but probably not enough to acquire it too. The school should make a lunch period of a more reasonable length, install another cashier line, and maybe install machines to dispense some food like drinks and so forth to minimize the number of kids on the lines.

  176. unklegwar says:

    It may be US currency and legal tender, but the little brats deserve a kick in the ass for being pricks. Crap like this is what starts them on the road to being the selfish adults they will become.

    It’s one thing to get to school and realize all you have is a pocket full of change to pay with, but to plan to be an inconvenient jerk is another thing.

  177. Coelacanth says:

    The adverserial relationship between teachers, administrators, and students never ceases to be amazing. Occasionally children do have valid complaints that the adults around them should pay attention to. Creative protests like the following show that kids are willing to play by the rules, but feel strongly enough to make a stand.

    Instead of sqaushing their voice, give them a forum that allows them to be heard.

    Then again, some people see school as an institution, where it instills “discipline” to accept the cold, harsh realities of things to come. It works very hard to teach kids into standing back and accept when their teachers listen to student’s problems and “take it seriously.”

  178. They should be expelled and barred from attending college and probably sent to military school. They should also retroactively fail previous grade levels they have already passed.

  179. Panamapeter says:

    Judging from the writing, many of the people here spent too much time in line and not enough in English class.

  180. Trai_Dep says:

    @KogeLiz: “This kid didn’t even know WHY she was handing the staff pennies… she just did it along with everyone else.”

    Happens with many protests. Recall that Rosa Parks sat down in the front of the bus simply because she was tired. Things got “out of hand” because of how authorities handled that “uppity” situation…

  181. UpsetPanda says:

    But they didn’t speak up! They didn’t protest, and the students admit they didn’t say anything to the school staff before their little prank. And it wasn’t a protest – people started saying it was, and it snowballed. Middle schoolers, like all kids, will eventually find SOMETHING to gripe about. They should’ve used normal methods of communication that are not disruptive to staff, before launching any kind of physical protest. I think it is disrespectful to make cafeteria staff cound the pennies. It doesn’t matter that it was legal tender – it holds up the line, and that was against what their little effort was about. Instead of protesting, how about finding methods of making the lunch process faster?

  182. nikdahl says:

    I was listening to a radio show that was talking about this incident. Someone called up and said that they staged a similar prank at their high school. The Principal was actually smart, and instead of creating a big deal out of it, he simply added a second teller line for the kids paying with pennies. That way, they were only delaying themselves. That takes all the fun out of it. This is the quickest, easiest, and most effective way to deal with these kids.

  183. bnorton says:

    Firstly I didn’t know there were any schools that still took cash. Mine converted to a card system in 1991.

    I admire these kids for having an organized non violent protest. If other students did not get to eat their lunch I would say that proves their point.

    Bravo to the kids and BOO to the over reactive superintendent.

  184. witeowl says:

    @Trai_Dep:

    Make the administrators and teachers sidle up in line with the students, gather the same lunch and eat it within the same time constraints.

    Hahahahahaha…. aaaahhhhaahahahahahah….. hahah….. ha…heh….

    That’s a good one. My administrators would LOVE to get twenty minutes every day during which they can hang out, sit down, eat lunch, and not worry about anything else. Heck, most of the teachers would feel lucky to get twenty uninterrupted minutes in which to eat and relax.

  185. rbdfoxes says:

    @ClayS:
    Actually, I see very few examples of protesters presenting clear and well-thought-out, viable resolutions for the issues they are protesting. I think a protest is a good start, and as many people have pointed out, it is our responsibility as adults to teach these kids how to use their creativity in appropriate ways to voice their opinions.

  186. RvLeshrac says:

    @Galls:

    I find it interesting that your entire post consisted of both common and uncommon grammatical missteps.

  187. Trai_Dep says:

    @witeowl: You raise an excellent point. I shouldn’t have included teachers in the same grouping as insanely vindictive school administrators. My bad. Sorry!

    I’m assuming it’s No Child Left Behind that’s behind this absurdity?

  188. adam_h says:

    Lunch was 75 minutes at my highschool, the same length as a class because we had to eat in shifts. 75 minutes damn that was long.

  189. I applaud the kids, but wouldn’t the solution be (I didn’t read all the replies, forgive me if someone said this) to get a change counting machine? I have bought one for my daughter for like 10 dollars before. What if the kids mom only HAS pennies that day…suspension?

    And I always brought my lunch, when you buy it at school you are in line for 75-80% of your lunchtime. That’s just wrong. But to be honest, the kids shouldn’t be eating the poison they serve there anyhow.

  190. cerbie says:

    @Arrngrim: if they couldn’t eat, because serving these kids took too long, that is not a problem for these kids to deal with. The school has a responsibility to give those kids at the end of the line enough time.

    Your argument for the line at a store doesn’t make much sense, either. The store will remain open for you to pay and leave, and relies upon you to operate. The school is paid for by taxes, and exists to serve the students and tax payers.

    When I didn’t have time to finish eating, I ate anyway, and went to class late. However, I didn’t start off at public schools, so my perspective is based on have seven years of being treated like a student, before four years of being treated like cattle. I still regret not dropping out sooner (community college FTW).

  191. LuvJones says:

    @timmus:

    Then why didn’t they just refuse to take the pennies? Problem solved.

    I think this is really creative and shows these kids were thinking, which seems to be rare for a lot of kids these days.

    Whether the school likes it or not the kids DID NOT break any rules, how can you punish a child for doing something that is not technically wrong?

    Guess all kids should just turn into sheep. No need for free thinking it’s so overrated!

    The school missed an opportunity to use this as an educational tool. That’s a shame.

  192. Smitherd says:

    The short lunches are one of the worst things ever conceived. Back at my high school, we only had thirty minutes for lunch, and [as many commenters before me have pointed out] the majority of this time was spent waiting for the food itself.

    Brown-bag lunchers of the world unite!

  193. homeskillet81 says:

    those children deserve the detention for using the word “like” extra grammatically

  194. bobblack555 says:

    I’d be proud of my kid if they pulled a stunt like this. Schoo lunches are way too short anyways. We got 25 minutes when I was in school! 25 minutes! How is that even healthy to wait in line for 10 to 15 minutes, cram down your lunch in 10 minutes, then have to go straight back to class – more often than not with indigestion.