A Pennsylvania school district is being criticized for telling parents that their children could end up in foster care if they failed to pay off their school lunch balances.
The message was in a letter sent to about 1,000 parents in Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Valley West School District. It said parents could be taken to court over children’s lunch debt, @ap reports. The district says that it is trying to collect more than $20,000 in unpaid lunches, and that other methods to get parents to pay up have not been successful.
“You can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food. The result may be your child being taken from your home and placed in foster care,” the letter read.
The letter has not only prompted backlash from parents but disapproval from Luzerne County child welfare authorities for trying to misuse the system. After a slew of complaints, the only action district officials plan to take is to send out a less threatening letter next week.
Luzerne County’s manager and child welfare agency director have written the superintendent, insisting that the district stop making what they say are false claims.
Their letter calls the district’s actions troubling and a misrepresentation of how the Children and Youth Services Department and its foster care program actually work.
But Wyoming Valley West’s lawyer, Charles Coslett, said he did not consider the letters to be threatening.
“Hopefully, that gets their attention and it certainly did, didn’t it? I mean, if you think about it, you’re here this morning because some parents cried foul because he or she doesn’t want to pay a debt attributed to feeding their kids. How shameful,” Coslett told WYOU-TV.
School district officials say they plan to pursue other legal avenues to get the lunch money, such as filing a district court complaint or placing liens on properties.
For the coming year, the district will qualify for funding to provide free lunches to all its students.
Roommates, what are your thoughts on the district’s measures to get parents to pay up? Let us know.