A Florida school principal is red-faced after a form was sent out to several hundred students, many of them from low-income families, offering them the chance to purchase a front-of-the-line lunch pass for $100.
As Bay News 9 (St. Petersburg) reports, Lawton Chiles Middle Academy Principal Brian Andrews says he wasn’t aware of the form until he started getting angry phone calls from parents. He says the school’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association (PTSA) sent out the form independently of (and without the knowledge of) school officials.
The form, which was included with the students’ orientation packet and sent to about 300 students, tells parents that they can receive certain benefits by donating to the Teachers’ Wish List Fund. For $50, they get their name featured on the fund’s website. For $100, their kids will be given a front-of-the-line lunch pass. For $250, they get both of those benefits, plus preferred seating at concerts and award ceremonies.
That hasn’t sat well with Lawton Chiles parents. For one thing, many of the kids in the school are food-insecure (a polite way of saying that they don’t always get enough food to eat), so telling poor families that they can pay an extra hundred bucks for special food access is at once insensitive and insulting, says parent Chris Stephenson.
“The last thing you want to do is add like a food hierarchy on top of that by saying, ‘my dad has more money than you, I get to eat first. You have to wait.'”
— Stephanie Claytor (@ClaytorReports) August 10, 2017
What’s more, says Stephenson, the kids are only allowed 20 minutes for lunch, making the front-of-the-line pass an extra slap in the face to kids whose parents can’t buy one.
Principal Andrews isn’t having it, either.
“We don’t want any kids feeling like second class citizens. We don’t. That’s on me as the principal so ultimately, it is my responsibility what goes out to the kids. Again mistakes are made, but I think how the mistakes are recovered are important. And we did recover.”
In a statement, PTSA president Jil Bevis blamed the incident on a “clerical error.”
“Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered.”
Further, Andrews said that he has spoken to the PTSA’s leadership to make sure that no communication is sent to parents without first getting the approval of school officials.
[Featured Image by Africa Studio/Shtterstock]