Courtesy of The Hill:
A Pennsylvania school district reportedly plans to send out another letter to parents after facing backlash for a message warning parents that their children could be recommended to be put in foster care if they didn’t pay their school lunch debt.
One copy of the initial letter, which has since been reposted on social media, shows the Wyoming Valley West School District informing parents of their student’s school lunch account balance of $75.25, adding that “multiple letters have been sent home with your child and no payments have been made to their account,” NBC affiliate WBRE reported.
“Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch,” the July 9 letter reads. “This is a failure to provide your child with proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child’s right to food.”
“If you are taken to Dependency court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed in foster care,” the letter continues. “Please remit payment as soon as possible to avoid being reported to the proper authorities.”
The letter was signed by the district’s federal programs director, Joseph Muth. Muth did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill on Friday.
The district is trying to collect some $20,000 worth of unpaid lunch debt, according to WBRE, which reported that the district plans to send out a “softer” version of the letter to parents who haven’t paid their children’s lunch debts.
Joanne Van Saun, executive director of the county’s child and youth services, called the initial letter “disturbing,” telling WBRE that “never has this county removed a child from a home for unpaid bills and never will we.”
Hey look, I worked for the school distruct up here in Alaska, I know the struggle.
There are some parents who are quite literally MIA in their children’s lives, and rarely if ever pay debts, show up for conferences, or sign paperwork.
But the vast majority of parents are doing the best that they can every single day, and the public school’s job is to assist those families, not threaten them.
And for the record children are not placed in foster care over unpaid debts.
There is a long and careful process that happens before a child is removed from a home, and unpaid school lunch debt is never part that determinative process.