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Ellison: Schools can’t withhold diplomas over lunch debts

Attorney General Keith Ellison
MinnPost photo by Peter Callaghan
Attorney General Keith Ellison

In the Star Tribune,  Matt McKinney writes, “The state attorney general on Wednesday issued a binding opinion that schools cannot withhold a student’s diploma over unpaid lunch debt. The opinion, regarded as law unless a court or the Legislature says otherwise, says existing statutes already prohibit withholding a diploma for nonpayment of fees or demeaning a child over unpaid lunch debt. ‘Minnesota law supports the principle that living with the dignity and respect that comes from participating in a graduation ceremony cannot be restricted by your ability to afford your life,’ Attorney General Keith Ellison said.”

MPR’s Brian Bakst writes: “Minnesota lawmakers slid past a self-set deadline for striking a budget agreement in a day of fits-and-starts negotiations, although the unwillingness of top leaders to say much about their talks suggested real deal-making was in full swing. The closed-door discussions — a ritual that the new crop of leaders had hoped to keep to a minimum this year — left little public indication of what obstacles had been dispensed with and what pressure points remained.”

From the PiPress: “Another day, another ranking on the Internet. In a recently published ranking of worst cities in each state in USA Today, St. Paul came out on the bottom for the North Star State. The listing flies in the face of the slogan on the city’s website, which proclaims St. Paul as “The Most Livable City in America.” And it comes just as U.S. News & World Report ranked Minnesota the third-best state in the country.”

Says Tim Nelson for MPR, “The Minnesota Twins are weighing changes to security at the entrance to Target Field, including discussions about what may be allowed through the gates. A spokesperson for the team called the discussions very preliminary, limited so far to a single meeting this week to solicit ideas.”


Says Dave Chanen for the Star Tribune, “The Minneapolis Park Board moved one step closer Wednesday night to renaming Lake Calhoun roads and public land that surrounds the lake to its original Dakota name, Bde Maka Ska. With little debate, the board’s five-member Administration and Finance Committee unanimously approved two resolutions for the name change, which still must be voted on by the full nine-member board. More than a dozen people spoke in favor of the renaming before the committee took action.”

In City Pages, Hannah Jones writes: “Imagine the city 20, 40 years down the line, and envision its brand-new banks, coffee shops, and hamburger joints. Ask yourself: Do you see any drive-thru windows? That’s the question the city is asking itself now. On Thursday, the Minneapolis Planning Commission will entertain an all-out ban on new drive-thrus throughout the city.”

For the Duluth News Tribune, Adelle Whitefoot writes: “Duluth Edison Charter Schools is facing a lawsuit as three families with students of color are alleging racial discrimination on the part of students, staff and administration, as well as allowing systemic racism to continually occur. Filed last month, the lawsuit alleges the three students have experienced racist, unfair, hurtful and, at times, dangerous interactions at Duluth Edison with staff and students. The lawsuit also claims Duluth Edison treats black students differently than their white peers.”

For the PiPress, Jess Fleming writes, “Spring Cafe is now open in the Como Park Pavilion. The casual, counter-service restaurant looks exactly the same as it did last summer, but it’s now under new management. Lancer Catering, which provides food service for the Science Museum of Minnesota, Como Zoo and other local venues, bought out Matty O’Reilly’s contract and has vastly changed the menu.”


 For The Morning Consult, Claire Williams writes, “The Office of the Comptroller of the Currency will review Wells Fargo & Co.’s selection of its new chief executive, but the agency has no plans to make its results public, Comptroller of the Currency Joseph Otting said at a Senate Banking Committee hearing Wednesday. Otting’s comments came after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) questioned him at the hearing with other financial regulators on the OCC’s plans to vet any potential Wells Fargo CEO. … Warren said the OCC has the power to ‘effectively veto’ the candidates of some banks. The OCC has previously waived that right with Wells Fargo in consent orders on the bank, including in 2016 after the fake accounts scandal, she said.”

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Comments (3)

  1. Submitted by Brian Hanson on 05/16/2019 - 08:51 am.

    Are we talking about the actual diploma or the graduation ceremony? Pioneer Press article seems to indicate that schools wanted to or are blocking kids from the ceremony if they still had an unpaid lunch debt, but they’d still get their actual diploma.

    https://www.twincities.com/2019/05/15/keith-ellison-schools-cant-block-students-from-graduation-for-lunch-debt/

    Also, it would be nice if the AG provided his opinion as to how schools SHOULD go about collecting this debt, as opposed to just continuing to say “nope, can’t do that either”.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/16/2019 - 09:47 am.

      “Also, it would be nice if the AG provided his opinion as to how schools SHOULD go about collecting this debt, as opposed to just continuing to say “nope, can’t do that either”.”

      That’s outside the scope of an Attorney General’s opinion. Here was the question:

      “You have asked whether the practice of restricting a student from participating in graduation ceremonies or activities because the student has an outstanding school meal debt violates Minnesota statutes. ”

      It’s not the Attorney General’s job to go any further than answering the question.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/16/2019 - 12:14 pm.

      That’s not how it works.

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