After a tumultuous weekend of press coverage, Readington Middle School in New Jersey has apparently decided that 200 pennies do add up to $2. Parents and the American Civil Liberties Union are pleased.

The controversy erupted last week after several 7th- and 8th-graders reportedly decided that 30 minutes was not enough time to line up, purchase and eat their lunch. So on Thursday morning, these students trudged into the lunch line, weighed down by the coins pilfered from the crevices of couches, car ashtrays and piggy banks, and paid for their $2 lunch with hundreds of pennies. By the time lunch was over, the registers where filled with about 5,800 pennies. Delays in counting the money meant many students went hungry.

School officials were not impressed and began doling out detention like sloppy Joe’s. In all, 29 students received punishment. Administrators told them that what they had done was “disrespectful” not only to cafeteria staff but also to fellow students. (Yet on Friday, many of them brought bag lunches to protest on behalf of the so-called “Readington 29.”)

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