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Letter to Parents: Pay Lunch Debt, or We'll Take Your Kids

Pennsylvania school district warns that children could be placed in foster care for neglect
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2019 1:25 PM CDT
   (Getty/PingChengZuo)

(Newser) – The Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania really, really wants parents to pay off any debt they owe over their children's school lunches. In a letter mailed to about 1,000 parents, the district threatened that parents might lose custody of their children if they don't pay up, reports Erie News Now. "Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without breakfast and/or lunch," reads one letter to parents whose outstanding debt is $75.25. "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," it reads. And if that happens, the court could place the child into a foster care, the letter warns.

Um, no, the director of the Luzerne County children's services department tells WBRE. “It’s a total misrepresentation, a gross misrepresentation of what our agency does,” says Joanne Van Saun. Other county officials, including County Manager David Pedri, also called the threat inappropriate, and the county has asked the school district to retract the letter, reports NBC News. So far, that hasn't happened. In fact, a school district attorney suggests the controversy is necessary. "Hopefully that gets their attention, and it certainly did didn't it?" says Charles Coslett. He called it "shameful" that parents were neglecting a debt related to feeding their kids. (Read more school lunches stories.)

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