Don't Have Lunch Money? A Pennsylvania School District Threatens Foster Care

  

Category:  News & Politics

Via:  larry-hampton  •  last year  •  43 comments

Don't Have Lunch Money? A Pennsylvania School District Threatens Foster Care
The courthouse in Luzerne County, Pa., where officials this month sent letters to parents who had unpaid cafeteria debt, threatening to take parents to court if the obligations were not settled.

S E E D E D   C O N T E N T



Dozens of families in Pennsylvania received an alarming letter from their public school district this month informing parents that if their kid's lunch debt was not settled, their child could be removed from their home and placed in foster care.

Wyoming Valley West School District, one of the poorest districts in the state as measured by per-pupil spending, is located in a former coal mining community in Northeastern Pennsylvania, known affectionately by locals as "The Valley."

When officials there noticed that families owed the district around $22,000 in breakfast and lunch debt, they tried to get their money back.

"By mail, email, robo calls, personal calls and letters," said Joseph Mazur, the president of the district's board of education.

But, Mazur said, nothing worked.

That's when district officials sent out the now-infamous letter to about 40 families deemed to be the worst offenders in having overdue cafeteria bills — those were children with meal debt of $10 or more.

"Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch," said the letter signed by Joseph Muth, director of federal programs for the Wyoming Valley West School District. "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."


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Larry Hampton
1  seeder  Larry Hampton    last year

Wow!

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
2  Trout Giggles    last year
Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch," said the letter signed by Joseph Muth, director of federal programs for the Wyoming Valley West School District. "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."

He has a point there because failing to feed your children is neglect but I'm not sure taking the kids away and putting them in foster care is the answer

 
 
 
1stwarrior
2.1  1stwarrior  replied to  Trout Giggles @2    last year

I'm kinda reading this the wrong way, but, the parents aren't denying the child's right to food - the school district is by refusing to provide what is legally available.

Also, they "probably" don't have a legal leg to stand on as the lunch programs are a Fed program.

 
 
 
Kathleen
4  Kathleen    last year

I am going to go with finding out “why”they can’t give their kids lunch money or pack a lunch. If you can’t provide a lunch for your kids, this is a huge issue here. Are some of these families truly in trouble? Are they spending it on things they should not be instead? Are they thinking that the school system can do nothing about it? Find out why they are not able to provide their children with the most basic need.

 
 
 
Ronin2
4.1  Ronin2  replied to  Kathleen @4    last year

Kathleen I agree with you; but don't hold kids responsible for their parents' bad decisions. 

Make sure the kids are getting good meals; and then go after the parents that can pay; but to get the money back. But don't threaten to strip their kids from them. Foster care is not the way to go in most instances.

 
 
 
Kathleen
4.1.1  Kathleen  replied to  Ronin2 @4.1    last year

I am not...... I was referring to the parents.

This is not the kids fault at all...

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.2  Tessylo  replied to  Kathleen @4    last year
'Are some of these families truly in trouble? Are they spending it on things they should not be instead?'

So what are you implying?

I imagine most of these families are struggling to put food on the table while working multiple jobs to try and make ends meet.

I doubt they're blowing their money on big screen TVs and what not.  

 
 
 
MUVA
4.2.1  MUVA  replied to  Tessylo @4.2    last year

I bet they are.

 
 
 
Kathleen
4.2.2  Kathleen  replied to  Tessylo @4.2    last year

What’s wrong with asking those questions?

If they are struggling, then they can ask for help, instead of sending their child in without notifying the school and they think it’s neglect.  That way the school can know what is going on and they will not think about foster care. Isn’t that what this article is about? Taking responsibility notifying the school so that there is no misunderstandings?

Why can’t people understand that all it takes is filling out a form or calling the school or board of education to get it straightened out.

That way the child will be eligible and signed in to get reduced or free meals.

You have to start doing things the right way.

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.2.3  Tessylo  replied to  Kathleen @4.2.2    last year

Who says they're not doing things the right way?

 
 
 
Tessylo
4.2.4  Tessylo  replied to  MUVA @4.2.1    last year

I bet you bet WRONG.  

 
 
 
1stwarrior
5  1stwarrior    last year

https://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp

Feeding the Future with Healthy School Lunches

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day . The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.

Program Fact Sheet
 
 
 
Kathleen
5.1  Kathleen  replied to  1stwarrior @5    last year

They had that program at the schools in my area. Before school started we all would get a form you have to fill out.  There were free and reduced lunches.  You have to let them know you are not able instead of just sending your kids in with nothing.

 
 
 
Ed-NavDoc
5.1.1  Ed-NavDoc  replied to  Kathleen @5.1    last year

They still have it in many rural areas of Arizona like the one I live in.

 
 
 
Split Personality
6  Split Personality    last year
The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected a CEO's offer to cover the cost, the businessman said Tuesday. Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, said he offered to give Wyoming Valley West School District $22,000 to wipe out bills that generated the recent warning letter to parents.

https://www.middletownpress.com/news/education/article/CEO-Schools-denied-my-offer-after-warning-on-14116676.php

 
 
 
Ronin2
6.1  Ronin2  replied to  Split Personality @6    last year

Which makes no sense. Why would they care who pays the bill, so long as it gets paid?

 
 
 
Split Personality
6.1.1  Split Personality  replied to  Ronin2 @6.1    last year

Apparently Mr. Mazur wants to teach someone a lesson.

"By mail, email, robo calls, personal calls and letters," said Joseph Mazur, the president of the district's board of education.

But, Mazur said, nothing worked.

That's when district officials sent out the now-infamous letter to about 40 families deemed to be the worst offenders in having overdue cafeteria bills — those were children with meal debt of $10 or more.

one has to wonder how much they have spent on these collection efforts...

Mazur was the one who refused Carmichael's offer.

 
 
 
Tessylo
6.1.2  Tessylo  replied to  Split Personality @6.1.1    last year

Thanks for clearing that confusion up.

What a monstrous asshole Mazur is.  

 
 
 
Trout Giggles
6.1.3  Trout Giggles  replied to  Split Personality @6.1.1    last year

What a dick!

 
 
 
Split Personality
6.1.4  Split Personality  replied to  Trout Giggles @6.1.3    last year

There is still some hope.

Wyoming Valley West School Board officials tell Newswatch 16 they've received about 100 offers from donors all over the country. School board vice president David Usavage says he would be in favor of taking the offered donation and wiping the debts clean.

"If we can get it in one lump sum, why do we want to have to go out and go after people? You know, call them, write them letters, do whatever we were going to do," Usavage said.

Other taxpayers we spoke to in the district agreed.

"They should take it only due to the fact that it's a good Samaritan who's doing something good for children. Children don't have a voice, so they might as well just take it," said Marilyn Keegan of Kingston.

School board officials tell Newswatch 16 they'll be speaking to a lawyer Wednesday morning to consider how and if they would take this money.

Carmichael tells Newswatch 16 his offer is still on the table.

https://wnep.com/2019/07/23/wyoming-valley-west-turns-down-offers-to-pay-off-lunch-debt/

 
 
 
Ronin2
6.1.5  Ronin2  replied to  Tessylo @6.1.2    last year

That is something I think we all can agree on.

 
 
 
Split Personality
6.2  Split Personality  replied to  Split Personality @6    last year
Wyoming Valley West School District is a large, suburban public school district in Luzerne County , Pennsylvania . Students from nine boroughs attend Wyoming Valley West: Courtdale , Edwardsville , Forty Fort , Larksville , Luzerne , Plymouth , Pringle , Kingston , and Swoyersville . Wyoming Valley West School District encompasses approximately 14 square miles. According to 2000 federal census data, it serves a resident population of 44,510. In 2009, the residents' per capita income was $17,532 while the median family income was $40,398. The median income of a home owner was $38,252 per year. [2] Per school district officials, in school year 2007-08 the Wyoming Valley West School District provided basic educational services to 5,057 pupils through the employment of 345 teachers, 195 full-time and part-time support personnel, and 21 administrators.

So on average, the average student is $4.35 in arrears on food money,

and per the article, 40 students are the scofflaws with over $10.00 in arrears.

Wow.  Can't put them in foster care?  Can't lock them up?  Put a lien on their parents homes...

smh.

 
 
 
Split Personality
6.2.1  Split Personality  replied to  Split Personality @6.2    last year

I find the back story kind of fascinating.

The previous County Manager has been job hopping, and not necessarily for more money until this month.

Former Luzerne County manager Robert Lawton was unanimously hired last week as the new manager in Turlock, a city of more than 70,000 residents in California’s Central Valley, according to the Turlock Journal .

Lawton had resigned from the $110,000-a-year position as Luzerne County’s first non-interim manager under home rule at the end of 2015. He then worked as deputy county administrator in Sonoma County, Calif., and obtained a position as Yates County administrator in the Finger Lakes region of New York in August 2016 at a salary of $100,000.

Lawton’s employment contract with Turlock is for a three-year term starting by July 12 with a base salary of $215,748, the Turlock Journal said. He also will receive a $400 a month automobile allowance and relocation and moving expenses up to $20,000, it said.

https://www.mydallaspost.com/news/33778/former-luzerne-county-manager-lawton-back-in-california

Meanwhile he was replaced by the County Solicitor after a bitter fight among the County Board members, many of whom objected to the lawyer's ( C David Pedri ) total lack of experience, and new salary of $120,000.00.  Pedri has since received two 2% raises and was pushing for more under a new contract in September 2018.

Luzerne County Council is set to vote tonight on a four-year employment agreement with county Manager C. David Pedri, although the proposed salary raises have not yet been released, according to a revised meeting agenda posted at www.luzernecounty.org .

Pedri’s current agreement expires the end of this year. A former county chief solicitor, the 39-year-old Butler Township resident was hired as the county’s second non-interim manager under the home rule government structure in May 2016.

He was hired at $120,000 and received 2 percent raises in 2017 and 2018, for a current salary of $124,848.

Tonight’s meeting starts at 6 p.m. and is preceded by an executive session. The meeting will be at the Luzerne County Community College in Nanticoke.

According to the proposed resolution, council must set the manager’s salary through a resolution.

The lines were left blank for council to insert the salary that will be paid to Pedri on Jan. 1, 2019, and the raises he will receive on Jan. 1 in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

It says other terms and conditions will be contained in “extension of employment agreement offer letter” that was not posted.

https://www.mydallaspost.com/news/35819/luzerne-county-manager-pedris-contract-renewal-added-to-tonights-council-agenda

Luzerne County PA was instrumental in tipping PA's electoral votes to the Trump column in 2016.

It's both curious and somewhat admirable that the local papers (almost) never identify the subjects of their stories as

Democrats or Republicans.

Just saying....

 
 
 
1stwarrior
7  1stwarrior    last year

https://www.fns.usda.gov/nslp

Feeding the Future with Healthy School Lunches

The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally assisted meal program operating in public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care institutions. It provides nutritionally balanced, low-cost or free lunches to children each school day . The program was established under the National School Lunch Act, signed by President Harry Truman in 1946.

Program Fact Sheet
5. How can children qualify for free or reduced price school breakfast? Children may be determined “categorically eligible” for free meals through participation in certain Federal Assistance Programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or based on their status as a homeless, migrant, runaway, or foster child. Children enrolled in a federally-funded Head Start Program, or a comparable State-funded pre-kindergarten program, are also categorically eligible for free meals. Children can also qualify for free or reduced price school meals based on household income and family size. Children from families with incomes at or below 130 percent of the Federal poverty level are eligible for free meals.
 
 
 
Tessylo
7.1  Tessylo  replied to  1stwarrior @7    last year

Did you have a problem when First Lady Michelle Obama advocated for healthy school lunches?

 
 
 
Freefaller
8  Freefaller    last year

While I fully support the schools efforts to recover what they are owed, I don't believe this action would get any traction in the legal world or with CPS

 
 
 
freepress
9  freepress    last year

No child in this country should be denied a simple meal at school, they should just allow parental donations and outside donations to cover the cost of food and never ask a child for money like they were outside school in a private setting. The profit motive is so ingrained that we are punishing children who have no control over their own parents or what level of income they were born into. 

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
10  Paula Bartholomew    last year

Take the money that removing a child from a home would cost and purchase food staples for that family instead.

 
 
 
Kathleen
11  Kathleen    last year

Just a thought, there are many children that are neglected and abused. There should always be an investigation in the home when they are sending in children to school with nothing to eat. 

 
 
 
Tessylo
11.1  Tessylo  replied to  Kathleen @11    last year

Maybe they should send staples of food like Paula mentioned rather than investigate.

If there were signs of abuse the school should report it to the proper agencies and then investigate.  

 
 
 
Kathleen
11.1.1  Kathleen  replied to  Tessylo @11.1    last year

So you think they should keep giving them free breakfast and lunches and never investigate why they are not paying for it?

 
 
 
Paula Bartholomew
11.1.2  Paula Bartholomew  replied to  Kathleen @11.1.1    last year

An investigation can be done without removing a child.

 
 
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