Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida is doing some serious back-peddling after a controversial fundraising initiative went viral.
The Parent-Teacher-Student Association is looking for ways to raise money for the school, and they thought they came up with a great idea. Depending on your monetary donation, you and your child would receive perks through the school. For example, if you donated $50 as a family, your last name would be featured on the school website. If you donated $100 as a business, you would get your logo featured on the site. If you donated $250 you would get ALL the perks, plus 2 'premium seats' at concerts and awards shows.
But it's the the $100 family donation that got people talking.
This got parents talking. Parents were outraged, claiming a "lunch line pass" was totally unaceptable.
“Hey my dad has more money than you I get to eat first you have to wait you have to wait,” is how one dad, Chris Stephenson, imagines would happen between students. "You got those who can pay and those who cannot. It’s like, ‘I have money, I’m in the front of line now. All you poor kids get in the back of the line.'"
“Polk County has a very high rate of food insecurity when it comes to kids,” he added to News Channel 8. “With middle school already being a very contentious age, with hormones and everything else, the last thing you really want to do is add a food hierarchy on top of that.”
So how did this even get approved, and what did the PTSA have to say about it?
The sponsor sheet was sent out to every student with their orientation package, leaving many parents wondering how the school could approve such a divisive incentive.
“Where were the checkpoints missed, who allowed and approved documents to be distributed to 300 some odd students without having read it?" Stephenson asked.
According to school principal, Brian Andrews, this initiative should never have happened and he's not sure how it did.
“This definitely hits home for me and I am very upset about it,” Andrews said. "Nobody is a second-class citizen here and I would encourage anybody to speak to parents that have been here."
Andrews says he never saw the form, otherwise he wouldn't have sent it out. He says it all boils down to a clerical error and it wasn't intentional.
“What we do behind these walls I truly believe we are for all kids and we will continue to do that,” Andrews said.
As for the PTSA, they also agree it was an accident.
“We look to strive to look for new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students. We offer a variety of fundraising options for our students and families to choose from each year. This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored but we decided not to implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered. The intent of our PTSA is to always do the best for our students and families.”
Do you think the school was out of line for offering a front-of-the-line lunch pass? Or was it a clever way of getting families involved? Let us know.