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‘Poor kids get in the back’: Give $100 and your kid gets lunch first, school offers

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You’re doing your annual preparations for your kids returning to school when you get a letter soliciting donations from the Parent Teacher Student Association, offering various rewards for different amounts. You’re interested in helping out, and then you see the reward for giving $100.

“Last name or company logo featured on website, as well as PTSA events AND front of the lunch line pass,” the form reads.

Chris Stephenson, a parent of a child at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, saw that and posted a photo of the pass on his Facebook page with a “feeling disgusted” emoji.

“So, this is a thing... for the low low price of $100, your child can skip everyone else in the lunch line, every day,” he wrote. “What the s---.”

Stephenson expanded on those comments in an interview with Channel 8, saying this was the last thing kids needed with food insecurity in the Lakeland area already high, along with middle school hormones.

“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,’” Stephenson told Channel 8. He added in a Facebook comment on his original post that it would be the first year he wouldn’t be donating to the PTSA.

Brian Andrews, principal of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy, told WXYZ he was “very upset” by the lunch line pass offer, and that the school will not actually participate.

Andrews told Channel 8 that he is supposed to approve PTSA materials before they are sent out, but this one did not make it to his desk. In an email to parents sent Thursday and also posted by Stephenson, Andrews said he does not approve of “any donation that is tied to any student advantage or privilege on campus.”

PTSA president Jil Bevis said in a statement that the form was sent to parents due to a “clerical error.”

“The Lawton Chiles Middle academy PTSA is a group of volunteers including Parents, Teachers, Students and Administrators. We 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 to not implement,” Bevis’ statement reads. “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.”

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