Parents upset over letter letting students pay to skip lunch line

A plan that would have let students cut the lunch line for a donation causes controvers.

Parents are upset over a letter sent out with students at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland. It gives students the opportunity to skip their classmates in the lunch line for a price.

“Like they can’t have thought, ‘Hey, this is a great idea!’” said Chris Stephenson, whose son is in sixth-grade at the school.

Stephenson said the letter went out to every student in a packet at orientation. The school's Parent Teacher Student Association apparently sent the letter, which was still on its website on the first day of classes Thursday.

Stephenson said his problem with it isn't just about a student getting his food before somebody else. It's about a kid getting privileges over his classmates just because his parents make a little bit more money than the others.

“It's 2017. This is not the 1960s,” he said. “We're not telling people to go to the back of the bus 'cause you're poor. That's stupid!”

The letter includes different prizes depending on the amount of the donation. For a "$100 Family or Business Sponsor," the letter reads, students will get their "last name or Company logo featured on website, as well as PTSA events AND front of the lunch line pass."

Lawton Chiles Middle Academy's principal, Brian Andrews, sent out an email to parents on the first day of school. It says, "Please disregard this form as it was not approved prior to distribution. I do not approve of any donation that is tied to any student advantage or privilege on campus."

“We don't want any kids feeling like second-class citizens,” Andrews told 10News.

The PTSA said the letter ended up in the hands of hundreds of students "due to a clerical error,” saying, "This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored, but we decided not to implement it."

“So they needed to raise money, that's cool,” Stephenson said. “There are a lot of other schools that do it in ways that are much less privileged.”

If they want to collect money in the future, he suggests sticking to old-fashioned rewards, like a brick with your name on it.

Andrews, who has two kids who go to the school, said when he first got there a few years ago, they'd let kids who got straight A's go to the front of the lunch line. He got rid of that as well, saying he believes all students should be equal.

 

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