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Author Topic: Pennies As Harassment?  (Read 1824 times) Average Rating: 0
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FrChris
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« on: March 01, 2008, 08:12:38 PM »

Interesting use of legal tender as a means of alleged harassment of The Man...

Source

Are we prepared to argue now that currency can be used for all debts, public and private...unless The Powers That Be decide it's inconvenient for them?

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Students Punished After Buying Lunch With Pennies

It's plastered on their shirts and these eighth graders wear it proudly because on Thursday they pulled a prank at the Readington Middle School, paying for their lunches entirely in 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.

In fact, the penny prank has earned 29 students two days of detention.

"I don't think a detention is unfair," parent Wendy Hunt said. "I'm a little bit proud of them... I think communication is definitely key."

CBS 2 HD did the math …

Each student brought in 200 pennies. Multiply that by 29 you get close to 5,800 pennies.

The superintendent says the students never raised concerns about the shortened lunch before. If they had, he would have worked with them.

"There are opportunities and avenues to raise concern," Schiff said.

The eighth graders, who arranged the prank through text messages, admit they didn't raise concerns before but:

"There was no rule in the rulebook about it," student Sarah Henschel said. "It was just unfair. It's U.S. currency."

Rulebook or not one parent whose son brought in pennies said he'll have to face the consequences.

"This will send a message to him that, hey, what you're going to do and how it affects other people," Lisa O'Donoghue said.

The eighth graders continued protesting Friday by brown-bagging it, but also gave the lunch ladies cards apologizing.
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« Reply #1 on: March 02, 2008, 06:17:09 PM »

Phew...tough call.

On the one hand, the U.S. government declares that pennies are valid currency; therefore, there is nothing legally wrong with paying for anything entirely with pennies. Furthermore, the students merely took more time than necessary to pay for lunch. Again, there is nothing legally wrong with taking more time to do something than is strictly necessary.

On the other hand, if this was truly a protest, I can see how the school could make a case for disrespect of administration, especially if there is an active student council or other such means to file a grievance about a school policy. In addition, pranks on-campus cannot be tolerated, no matter how small, because they have a way of growing.

This just bolsters my case for not wanting to be a school administrator. I don't think there was a good way out of this one.
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« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2008, 09:11:07 AM »

Here in Canada the law reads a little differently:
 
Quote
(2) A payment in coins referred to in subsection (1) is a legal tender for no more than the following amounts for the following denominations of coins:

(a) forty dollars if the denomination is two dollars or greater but does not exceed ten dollars;

(b) twenty-five dollars if the denomination is one dollar;

(c) ten dollars if the denomination is ten cents or greater but less than one dollar;

(d) five dollars if the denomination is five cents; and

(e) twenty-five cents if the denomination is one cent.
(from, Currency Act, 1985)

Quote
What is "legal tender"?

A "tender" is an offer of payment of a debt. In Canada, legal tender consists of coins issued by the Royal Canadian Mint and bank notes issued by the Bank of Canada.

This does not mean that a merchant is obliged to accept bank notes. The method of payment can be whatever is mutually acceptable to both parties — cash, credit card, cheque, etc. Thus, a merchant may refuse to accept bank notes in payment for goods or services, without contravening the law.

(from a sidebar on the Bank of Canada website)

It could be a hardship for a small business to accept $100 bills for small purchases. Also, the use of hundreds or thousands of pennies would also create a hardship. While I sympathize with the students in question, here they don't have the law on their side.

Jim
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« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2008, 09:33:49 AM »

Here in Canada the law reads a little differently:
 
It could be a hardship for a small business to accept $100 bills for small purchases. Also, the use of hundreds or thousands of pennies would also create a hardship. While I sympathize with the students in question, here they don't have the law on their side.

Jim

That's a great point, except they're in New Jersey, and no one's shown anything to suggest such a statute in New Jersey law, so I guess that it's not such a great point after all.  Furthermore, it would probably be unconstitutional for a state to make such a law regulating currency, so we'd have to look to federal law to see if there's anything along those lines.
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« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2008, 03:21:44 PM »

There is such a law, printed right on every dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." That's all we have to say about that.
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« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2008, 03:32:19 PM »

There is such a law, printed right on every dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." That's all we have to say about that.

A meant a law such as the one referenced supra, wherein certain types of coins or currency are not legal tender for transactions in excess of specified amounts.
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« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2008, 03:35:06 PM »

I see. I completely read that one wrong, then. Sorry.
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« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2008, 03:56:40 PM »

Sweepstakes:  "I have some great news and some bad news for you."

Customer:  "What's the good news?"

Sweepstakes:  "CONGRATULATIONS!  You just won ten million dollars!"

Customer:  "GREAT!  What's so bad about that?"

Sweepstakes:  "It's all in pennies."
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« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2008, 04:06:06 PM »

It's an interesting form of protest - quite creative, I'd say.  The school doesn't have any moral "high ground' to stand on in this case, even if they do have the right to punish them for "disrespect" and whatnot.  I find the story to be quite funny.
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« Reply #9 on: March 19, 2008, 04:58:19 PM »

I feel that disrespect is relative. If the lunch ladies are too lazy or stupid to count up the pennies in an efficient and expedient manner, maybe they need to be replaced by other people who can get the job done accurately and efficiently. I would not let the school punish my child for that, infact, being a US citizen, I would see this an ideal opportunity for a law suit against the school.

-Nick
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« Reply #10 on: March 19, 2008, 05:06:18 PM »

There is such a law, printed right on every dollar bill: "This note is legal tender for all debts, public and private." That's all we have to say about that.

According to the Treasury Department, a private business can refuse to accept payment in cash or coins at their whim in lieu of a State law saying otherwise.

How this works in terms of a public institution such as a middle school remains to be seen.
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« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2008, 04:25:45 PM »

I feel that disrespect is relative. If the lunch ladies are too lazy or stupid to count up the pennies in an efficient and expedient manner, maybe they need to be replaced by other people who can get the job done accurately and efficiently. I would not let the school punish my child for that, infact, being a US citizen, I would see this an ideal opportunity for a law suit against the school.

-Nick
Again bolstering my case for not wanting to be a school administrator.
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