School won’t let CEO pay off student lunch debt

By mbrooks on July 24, 2019
FILE – In this Nov. 30, 2017 photo, Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, speaks to me media in Philadelphia. The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on school lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected Carmichael’s offer to cover the cost, the businessman said Tuesday, July 23, 2019.( AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

By Matthew Brooks

A Pennsylvania school district sent a letter saying unpaid lunch debts could lead to children being put in foster care.

A CEO offered to pay off all of the lunch debts.

The school district says no, WNEP reports.

School rejects charitable offer

According to WNEP, the Pennsylvania district says about 1,000 parents owe the school district $22,000 for unpaid lunches.

The school district rejected the charitable offer of Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee in Philadelphia.

Carmichael told WPVI in Philadelphia that he wants to help out the school kids because he received lunch assistance as a kid.

“I know what it means to be hungry … I know what it means to feel shame for not being able to afford food.”

School threatens kids could be taken away

The president of the Wyoming Valley West School board, Joseph Mazuer, offered an explanation why he rejected the offer. Mazur argued that the parents who have owe the school district money can afford to pay it off, according to an report in the Associated Press.

One-thousand homes received a letter from the school district which said unpaid lunch bills could lead to children being forcibly removed from their homes.

“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. If you are taken to Dependency Court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed in foster care,” the letter stated.

Joseph Muth, director of Federal Programs for the school district, signed the letter.

The school district previously confirmed the letter was real, and not a hoax.

Child welfare authorities denies school district’s threat

According to anĀ Associated Press story, “child welfare authorities have told the district that Luzerne County does not run its foster system that way.”

The Philadelphia TV station, WPVI, says the area’s child welfare agency director has written to the superintendent, Irvin DeRemer, regarding the threat of foster care. The welfare agency director has demanded the district stop making what it called false claims.

The school district says it has other plans to get the money from the parents.

The AP reports that school district officials have said may file a district court complaint or place liens on properties.

There are no confirmed reports of any parents intending to moving away over the school lunch issue.

A New Jersey school district also created an unpopular plan for dealing with lunch debt. In that case, a business owner also offered to pay off the debts. The New Jersey school district also said no to the business owner.

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