Students who fail to do homework get cold lunches

WALKERTON, Ind. –A program at a school in Walkerton that is aimed at getting students to do their homework is being called unfair punishment by some local social workers. Students who don’t complete their homework have to report to the ZAP room and get a cold lunch.

"ZAP stands for Zeros Aren't Permitted and our goal is to get students to do the work that they need to do,” said Principal Mark Maudlin, Urey Middle School.

If any of the 300 or so seventh and eighth grade students fail to do their homework, they will spend their half hour lunch in the ZAP room.

"The work is there waiting for them so they don’t have to remember it from their locker or anything like that. It’s in there waiting in there for them,” said Maudlin.

Instead of getting a hot school lunch option, they get a cold lunch - in a bag.

"They have all of the fruits and he veggies and the milk and everything they would normally need in a sack,” said Maudlin.

It does meet the USDA food guidelines for school lunches but that's not the problem the Indiana National Association of Social Workers has with this program.

Mark Fairchild, MSW, LSW, Executive Director of NASW's Indiana Chapter issued the following statement about the ZAP program. "Every school should be very cautious with any program that limits or removes social and recreational activities during the school day, as this has the possibilities of increasing negative stigmas towards school and self, as well as feelings of isolation and anxiety in children. Secondly, incorporating a basic need such as food into punishment system should be taken very seriously. Although this program does not remove lunch altogether, it changes it from that of others and for those children who encounter malnourishment elsewhere in their live, further controlling their food may be damaging psychologicially well beyond the intent of the punishment."

Principal Maudlin insists ZAP isn't designed to hurt the students but instead to help.

"We are trying to get them to get their homework done. Homework is part of learning. We are trying to make sure they get that learning done,” said Maudlin.

More than a dozen parents that we spoke to didn't want to get involved on camera or give their names, however they did all say they support the program.

The local social workers who alerted ABC 57 about the ZAP program would not go on camera either. However they said they believe the program uses unfair punishment.

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