NBC affiliate WBRE reported that the Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania is cracking down on parents who have failed to pay their child’s delinquent school lunch accounts.
A letter signed by the district’s federal programs director, Joseph Muth, was sent to parents on July 9th. It reads as follows:
Multiple letters have been sent home with your child and no payments have been made to their account.
Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without a breakfast and/or lunch. 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. Please remit payment as soon as possible to avoid being reported to the proper authorities.
According to WBRE, the district is trying to collect some $20,000 worth of unpaid lunch debt.
Officials from the County in which this school district is located were appalled when they learned of this letter. Luzerne County Children and Youth Services executive director Joanne Van Saun told WBRE:
I found it very disturbing. Upsetting. It’s a total misrepresentation, a gross misrepresentation of what our agency does.
I have been employed for Luzerne County Children and Youth Services for 33 years. Never has this county removed a child from a home for unpaid bills and never will we.
If we learned about this problem we would have collaborated with Wyoming Valley West to come up with other ways to meet those bills.
Luzerne County Manager David Pedri sent a letter to the school district on Thursday afternoon asking them to retract the letter. He told WBRE that, “This is a gross misrepresentation as to what we do. What you are really doing is weaponizing the good things we are doing in Luzerne County. I’m asking the school district to retract the letter.”
The district has said they will comply.