What happens when a school district needs to collect $20,000 in unpaid lunch fees from parents? In Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, they, um … repossess your kids. A letter from the director of federal programs at the Wyoming Valley West School District warns delinquent parents that the district will force their kids into foster care if they don’t pay up.
Nice kids ya got there … shame if anything happened to them, eh?
To their credit, other county officials couldn’t believe their eyes:
Luzerne County officials say there is no way they would be part of removing children from their homes over unpaid lunch bills or any unpaid bill for that matter. They are demanding a retraction letter from the Wyoming Valley West School District.
“I found it very disturbing. Upsetting. It’s a total misrepresentation, a gross misrepresentation of what our agency does,” Luzerne County Children and Youth Services executive director Joanne Van Saun said.
Van Saun and Luzerne County Manager David Pedri say they were stunned when they read the letter that was sent to parents in the Wyoming Valley West School District. It tells the parents they could be taken to dependency court and have their children removed from their homes if they do not pay their delinquent lunch bills. The district is trying to collect some $20,000 worth of delinquent lunch payments.
“It’s just not true. We do not remove children from families for unpaid bills,” Van Saun said.
How big are these bills, anyway? One family got threatened with foster care for being $75 in arrears:
In one letter shared on social media and obtained by @wbrewyou, the parents are informed that their child has a balance of $75.25 and if they do not pay it, the parents could be reported to dependency court. https://t.co/iChIamKNE7 pic.twitter.com/ziUu4JZHEd
— NBC News (@NBCNews) July 19, 2019
Note the handwriting on this letter. At no point did the bureaucrats who personally compiled and mailed these letters think to themselves, “Is seventy-five dollars worth a threat like this?” And don’t forget that these are the same bureaucrats that parents have to trust with with their children. In fact, they’re forced to trust them — or else potentially face the same threat, unless they pay out for a private school.
The school district doesn’t sound terribly repentant:
The letter was signed by Joseph Muth, director of federal programs for the Wyoming Valley West School District.
Muth and the school district did not immediately return NBC News’ request for comment. According to WBRE, the district is trying to collect about $20,000 worth of lunch debt. …
The school district said it will send another, softer letter to parents about unpaid lunch bills, WBRE reported.
What’s the “softer letter” going to say? Pay up or we’ll force your kids to perform custodial work at no pay all day until you do?
It’s certainly fair to demand that delinquent parents pay up on overdue lunch bills. This threat, however, is a gross abuse of power, and the people responsible for it should get the boot. If they’re shameless enough to abuse their authority in this manner, it’s almost certain that they’ve had lots of practice at it before now.