Public school turns away philanthropist trying to erase student lunch debt


There are certainly some areas in which our American public school system can improve, but, as they say, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink.

We’ve known for far too long that teachers in America are incredibly underpaid and under appreciated, and this isn’t something that can be metered with phrases like “you don’t get into teaching for the money”.  What is most concerning about undervalued educators is that they provide our children with an underwhelming education.   Not all teachers are suffering from the poverty their wages dictate, but all of the students of a poorly-paid teacher do suffer.

As if that weren’t enough, there are now instances of parents being threatened with action from child-protective authorities over something as silly as lunch money.

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Take Wyoming Valley West Public School in Pennsylvania, for instance.

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A letter dated July 9 sent by the district said: “Your child has been sent to school every day without money and without 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.”

It states that if the parent is taken to court, they risk their child being removed “and placed in foster care.” “Please remit payment as soon as possible to avoid being reported to the proper authorities,” it says.

Now here is where things go completely off the rails.

La Colombe Coffee CEO Todd Carmichael said the Wyoming Valley West School Board’s president on Monday told him “no” when he offered to give the district $22,000 to cover the outstanding debts.

Carmichael said in a letter obtained by NBC News that he received free meals at school when he was a child and was “horrified” when he heard of the threatening letters, which were sent to parents and demanded they pay up or risk having their children placed in foster care. The letters sent to parents were obtained by NBC affiliate WBRE of Wilkes-Barre.

“On Monday, we talked to School Board President Joseph Mazur to determine the best way to transfer the funds in order to wipe the slate clean and restore dignity to the 1,000 families who received these threatening letters,” Carmichael wrote in the letter.

“Shockingly, Mr. Mazur turned us down. I can’t explain or justify his actions. Let me be clear: we offered over $22,000 with no strings attached. And he said ‘NO,'” the letter stated.

This unbelievable answer comes at a time when students and parents are suffering at Wyoming Valley West, after being threatened by the school itself.  For these administrators to deny this philanthropic opportunity is undoubtedly a dereliction of their duties, and we can only hope that the community takes the proper steps to rectify the situation.

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