A Pennsylvania school that sparked controversy over a threat it made for lunch debts has apologized. The Wyoming Valley West School District issued an online apology on Wednesday and accepted a donation to cover the debts.
Wyoming Valley West School sent around 1,000 letters to parents who still owed money for their children’s lunches in school. The controversial letter warned parents that they could be taken to Dependency Court for sending children without food or money. The letter read that the result may end up being your child removed and placed in foster care.
The letter sparked controversy and anger among those who received it or found out through the news or family members. The news also brought several requests of donations to help cover the debt.
One person even offered to pay the whole debt but the school initially rejected the request. It is unclear why the school decided to reject the offer but that changed on Wednesday, when it was announced that the donation would be accepted.
Wyoming Valley West School posted an online apology on its website, saying that the board of directors apologizes for the letter that was sent over the lunch debts. It was also announced that the donation from Mr. Carmichael would be accepted and that it would be used to help cover the debt owed by the parents.
The lunch debt controversy comes just months after a Rhode Island school district made headlines over a policy in which it would limit students owing money to a sandwich.
The policy immediately brought criticism from those against the decision. The policy, which was set to take effect on May 13, brought hundreds of comments to the school’s Facebook page. The majority of the comments were against the announcement.
The new policy would have asked any student who owed money to the school to be left out of the other meal options. The alternative was a sandwich or pay the school to have the other meal options.
The district later changed the policy, announcing through a Facebook post that it was recommended to the school to allow the students the choice of lunch regardless of their account status. The district revealed that the school faces a $77,000 debt for school meals.
In May, a school cafeteria worker was fired after allowing a student to get a lunch for free. Bonnie Kimball said she was fired on May 28 by Fresh Picks, a company that provides food to schools. She said she was fired a day after she let a student get lunch even though he had no money.
Kimball said the student’s account had no money but she told him to tell his mother that he needed money. She let him get lunch, telling the media she knew his mother would pay the bill. The student’s bill was paid shortly after but she was fired by the company.
A spokeswoman for the company confirmed that one of their employees had been fired by a district manager. The company offered to rehire her but she said she had no intention of coming back and accused the company of trying to rehire her so that they could keep their contract. The school board later voted to keep working with the company for at least one more year, despite the controversy with the cafeteria worker.
Local media reported that the alleged firing led to others quitting their jobs in protest. A GoFundMe campaign was started by the community to raise money for her.