Parents Tardy With School Lunch Money May Face Neglect Charges

August 8, 2019 Updated: August 8, 2019

Parents across the country are living in fear of being reported to social service agencies for neglect if they don’t comply with school regulations.

In the latest case, Union County Schools in Blairsville, Georgia, sent a letter notifying families that they will be reported to the government if students rack up charges for failing to bring lunch money to school.

A concerned parent flagged the letter, which lays out a concerningly low threshold for reporting families for government intervention.

“Students who are unable to pay for their lunch at the time of meal service will be allowed to charge a meal,” the letter from the school system’s nutrition department says. “After the student has incurred charges of $20, the student will receive an alternative lunch.

“Principals will be notified regarding student account balances each month.

“If the student’s charges become excessive, at the discretion of the school principal and social worker, the Union County Division of Family and Child Services may be contacted in relation to potential student neglect.”

David Murphy, assistant superintendent of Union County Schools, said in an email to The Epoch Times: “The School Nutrition Services and Meal Charge Guidelines are being misinterpreted and have never been intended to leverage the Division of Family and Child Services for lunch payments.

“The guidelines in question state the following: ‘If the student’s charges become excessive, at the discretion of the school principal and social worker, the Union County Division of Family and Child Services may be contacted in relation to potential neglect.’ Please note the word ‘may’ in the quoted sentence. This in no way implies that students owing lunch money are reported for neglect, and to my knowledge, no one has ever been reported for this cause alone.

“Georgia law identifies school employees as mandated reporters of student abuse and/or neglect. Thus, any school employee believing a student’s well-being is in jeopardy must report the situation to the Division of Family and Child Services. These guidelines also state, as identified in the same sentence quoted above, that both the school principal and social worker must determine that the excessive debt is the cause of neglect. Therefore, two caring adults must both come to the same conclusion in this case.

“We care deeply for our students and their well-being, and for this we make no apologies!”

Parental rights advocate Seraphim Schwab sees the letter differently. He told The Epoch Times that he spoke to other employees of the school system and is concerned with their lack of knowledge about the tactic.

“The letter is clearly a strong-arm tactic to get parents to pay them the balance that they are owed. Maybe the students are being bullied and getting their lunch money stolen. To trigger an anonymous report and prompt law enforcement to come to their house is very concerning and needs to stop,” Schwab said.

Union County Schools Superintendent John Hill didn’t immediately return a request for comment from The Epoch Times. The Union County Division of Children and Family Services in Blairsville, Georgia, also didn’t immediately return a request for comment.

This occurs on the heels of a controversy in July in Pennsylvania, where the Wyoming Valley West School District’s director of family programs sent a letter to families who owed lunch money, stating, “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.”

Parents nationwide are expressing concern about schools reporting their children to government protective agencies.

The Deer Park School District in New York recently sent a letter to parents informing them that they would be reported to Child Protective Services for failing to vaccinate children, stemming from Democratic New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s abolition of a religious exemption for vaccine requirements.

“On June 13, 2019, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo signed legislation removing non-medical exemptions from school vaccination requirements for children. This means that as of June 13, there is no longer a religious exemption to the requirement that children be vaccinated against measles and other diseases,” the letter stated.

“In the event that you do not follow this mandate, we will be reaching out to Child Protective Services (CPS) to alert them of your non-compliance,” the letter stated.

A national parent movement is forming to fight back against perceived injustices in the child protective services system.

The Epoch Times has reported on parent Dr. Susan Spell’s current $750 million lawsuit against Los Angeles County. An affidavit from former Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) employee Melinda Murphy alleges rampant wrongdoing by that agency, related to the case.

“During my training, my observations, and in my work experiences, I learned that the DCFS does not have a mechanism for backing down and, has a tendency, even if the parent is innocent, to make them appear guilty in some way, and that includes perjuring testimony, falsifying reports, and fabricating evidence to justify taking children,” Murphy said in the affidavit submitted by Dr. Spell’s attorney.

 

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