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Parents told they could lose kids over unpaid school lunches

Published July 19. 2019 03:24PM

KINGSTON (AP) — A Pennsylvania school district is warning that children could end up in foster care if their parents do not pay overdue school lunch bills.

The letters sent recently to about 1,000 parents in Wyoming Valley West School District have led to complaints from parents and a stern rebuke from Luzerne County child welfare authorities.

The district says that it is trying to collect more than $20,000, and that other methods to get parents to pay have not been successful. Four parents owe at least $450 apiece.

The letter claims the unpaid bills could lead to dependency hearings and removal of their children for not providing them with food.

“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.

After complaints, district officials announced they plan to send out a less threatening letter next week.

Luzerne County’s manager and child welfare agency director have written the superintendent, insisting the district stop making what they call 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 operate.

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.

The district’s federal programs director, Joseph Muth, told WNEP-TV the district had considered serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to students with delinquent accounts, but received legal advice warning against it.

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 students.

The district underwrote free lunches for four elementary and middle schools during the 2018-19 year, and WNEP-TV said school officials suspect some parents did not pay their lunch bills as a form of protest.

Comments
This is absolutely disgraceful. First of all, this entire district will qualify for funding to provide lunches next year - - which shows there are a lot of needy people there. Placing liens on property is far and away a better threat than saying you will lose your children. The district's lawyer seems to be taking a "get to the end by any means" argument which we see more and more in society. Sad.
That is right Joe. President Trump is going to take all children and kill them. Get used to the new normal in Trump’s America. This is just the start of things...Come on Joe...are you crazy, or what? On one hand you accuse President Trump of being a wild spender too stupid to have a budget. Yet, on the other hand you accuse the President of being personally involved in an elementary school’s lunch program audit. This is Trump Derangement Syndrome at its best. You are a fraud to yourself if you believe this garbage. Keep it up. MAGA!
I dare say I am getting floating memories of "Cash for Kids". Luzerne Co. at its finest.
Memories.......How are you doing there Mr. Ciaverella?
They already lost their kids because now the kids know their parents think they aren't even worth and extra $200 spread across a whole school year. How pathetic.

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