BOE seeks policy for parents who skip on lunch tab
A Board of Education committee asked state education officials yesterday to devise a standard statewide policy for schools to follow when dealing with children who repeatedly show up without lunch money.
The request was aimed at minimizing the practice of denying full lunches to repeat offenders until their parents pay.
"I know schools are not collection agencies but feeding our children is key," said Mary Cochran, chairwoman of the board's Support Services committee.
The issue was sparked by reports that some schools provide merely a roll or crackers along with a drink to students who repeatedly borrow from the school for their lunches.
A Department of Education official presented a proposal to provide students a "modified meal" consisting of a cheese sandwich or a bun with butter and jelly, a 3/8 cup of fruit and a beverage for up to three days.
Meanwhile, notes would be sent home to parents advising that they provide their children with a home lunch if no money is given. Parents may be charged for the lunch loans, under the proposal.
However, board officials worried the policy would amount to a promise of "free lunches" for kids and that there was no real incentive for parents to settle their children's debts.
"From where I sit, this looks like the status quo," Cochran said.
Noting that practices vary from school to school, board members asked the department to report back next month with plans for a consistent statewide approach that puts more pressure on "deadbeat" parents.