Polk Schools accused of 'cafeteria classism' after fundraising letter

Letter: Kids can skip lunch line for $100
Posted at 6:59 PM, Aug 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-08-11 06:58:20-04

Parents are claiming classism in the cafeteria.

A letter, included with Lawton Chiles Middle Academy’s orientation packet, went home but Polk County Schools says it was a mistake.

The school fundraising for PTSA asks for donations, and with a certain amount would give children a pass to the front of the lunch line. A Lakeland father says, that’s not okay with him.

“You got those who can pay and those who cannot,” Christ Stephenson said.

Attending middle school is rough enough so when Stephenson saw the form in his 6th grader’s orientation packet, he went red.

“Hey my dad has more money than you I get to eat first you have to wait you have to wait,”  Stephenson speculated what the form would incite from young students.

Stephenson and other parents were outraged. Many reaching out to the principal of the academy, who says he didn’t even sign off on the paperwork.

“This definitely hits home for me and I am very upset about it,” Brian Andrews, the principal of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy said.

Andrews has been with the middle school for four years and says since he’s arrived he has changed many things to always include all students.

“Nobody is a second-class citizen here and I would encourage anybody to speak to parents that have been here,” Andrews said.

 A statement from the PTSA explains to ABC Action News:

“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.

“Where were the checkpoints missed, who allowed and approved documents to be distributed to 300 some odd students without having read it? Stephenson questioned the school. 

The principal though, says he never saw the form and would have never included it in the packet.

“What we do behind these walls I truly believe we are for all kids and we will continue to do that,” Andrews said.