District Administration June 2017 - 16

BeyondtheNews
When lunch goes unpaid
Lunch shaming is the sort of term that
never existed until several months ago,
when it was seemingly everywhere.
It refers to cafeteria policies advocates
say punish students who are unable to
pay for their meal, such as by taking
their lunch away, or having them stand
in a separate line from their peers for different food.
In April, New Mexico became the
first state to ban such policies, including
throwing meals in the trash after they've
been served or requiring students to do
school chores or other work to pay off
their debt. Similar bills are pending in
California and Texas.
Even donors helped one district in
Florida. More than $7,000 was donated
to Palm Beach County schools to chip
away at the lunch debt among the district's students, according to the PalmDID YOU HEAR?

Settlement over
molestation
allegations
The Puyallup School District in
Washington has agreed to pay
$3.75 million to the families of five
former special needs students at
Ridgecrest Elementary School.
The families claim the district
was negligent in reporting and
investigating allegations that
another student was molesting
his classmates in a restroom
at school. The district says the
settlement is not an admission of
guilt or liability.
Source: DAmag.me/h8

16 June 2017

BeachPost.com. It helped more than
700 students out of debt, but more than
9,000 students remain in debt.
Many districts continue to serve students who can't pay while the charges
add up. The question is how to recoup
that debt from parents without punishing students.
"When you're looking at taxpayer
money to cover that, that's not OK,"
says Michael Daniels, superintendent of
the Canon-McMillan School District,
located near Pittsburgh, where lunch
debt has totaled $100,000.
The district made headlines in
September 2016 when, in a viral Facebook post, a cafeteria worker said she
resigned after being forced to take
hot lunches away from students who
couldn't pay or owed money. The district disputes her story.
This school year, Canon-McMillan
began sending weekly notices to parents
reminding them of their debt. Those
with $50 or more may be turned over to
a collection agency.
How to collect?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture,
which reimburses schools for free or
reduced-price meals, will require all
schools participating in the program to
adopt a policy on how handle the issue of
unpaid meals by July 1, 2017.
While it is up to local authorities to
determine the details of their policy, the
USDA has suggested strategies. It says
districts should encourage more families
to sign up for free or reduced lunch by
promoting the program year-round,
working with community groups to
identify eligible children and helping
parents complete the application.
It also recommends school officials
communicate discretely with families

GETTYIMAGES.COM: XIXINXING

By Abby Spegman

to work out a payment plan and adopt
payment methods that make it easier
for parents to keep up with accounts. A
2016 School Nutrition Association survey found 82 percent of districts offered
parents online payment options, while
62 percent notify families of low account
balances through automated phone calls,
texts or emails.
"The issue of students arriving in
the cafeteria without money in their
accounts or money to pay for their
meals is a common one, but schools
for the most part are finding ways
to address that," says Diane PrattHeavner, a spokeswoman for the nutrition association. "Ideally the meals
would be covered for all students, but
there's no funding in place for that."
As for what not to do, the USDA
discourages practices that single out
students who owe money, such as
requiring they use a different serving line in the cafeteria or using hand
stamps, stickers or other physical
markers. This punishment has recently
been reported in some districts.
Abby Spegman is a freelance writer based
in Washington.

District Administration


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of District Administration June 2017

District Administration June 2017 - Cover1
District Administration June 2017 - Cover2
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