A Pennsylvanian school district has sent letters to parents demanding that they pay their children’s outstanding school lunch debt, or else risk having their children placed into foster care.
In a letter shared widely on social media, parents are informed that their child has a negative balance and if they do not clear this debt, their parents could be reported to the local dependency court.
The letter states:
“Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch. 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”
The letter goes on to warn that “If you are taken to dependency court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed in foster care”
In order to avoid their children being ‘removed’ parents are advised to “Please remit payment as soon as possible to avoid being reported to the proper authorities”
The letter is signed by Joseph Muth, who is the director of federal programs for the Wyoming Valley West School District.
The full letter is posted here in all its ignominy:
Luzerne County Children and Youth Services Executive Director Joanne Van Saun told local press that she was disturbed by what she had read in the letter and said that her agency does not remove children from homes because of school lunch debt or any unpaid bill.
“It’s a total misrepresentation, a gross misrepresentation of what our agency does,” she told reporters. “It’s just not true. We do not remove children from families for unpaid bills.”
David Pedri, Luzerne County Manager for safeguarding children, has condemned Mr Muth for using foster care system as a scare tactic to chase up small debts from parents.
Speaking to the local NBC affiliate, David explained that “foster care is to be utilized only when absolutely needed — when a child has been abused, is in need or has suffered a tragedy”
“Our foster care system is NOT to be utilized to scare parents into paying school lunch bills.”
He has asked Wyoming Valley West School District to retract the letter.