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ECTOR COUNTY — Students at Noel Elementary were told for a time that they would not be allowed to go to their school Christmas party because of outstanding lunch debt.
An hour before her son got to his Christmas party at Noel Elementary School, a parent who wishes to remain anonymous got a text message from a teacher saying her son can’t enjoy the party he was looking forward to because of an outstanding debt for $7.50.
She said it’s outrageous that the school would punish her son for a debt he never had control over.
“They have no authority to handle money,” she said. “They have no money decisions. Basically, they’re not even going to know they’re in the negative. You’re basically punishing a child for being in the negative and owing lunch money.”
We asked ECISD officials why the students had to pay the price for their parents failing to cover the meals.
Spokesperson for the district Mike Adkins said ECISD has a serious lunch debt issue with more than $500 owed between just the Noel students and this was a way to motivate parents to settle their debts.
“We have had a district wide problem with unpaid lunch balances and so our school nutrition department is trying to put some things in place to really get those paid because it does, y’know, it is a big impact on the school district when those go unpaid,” Adkins said.
In the end, the school decided to let all the children enjoy the Christmas party, paid up or not.
“By the end of the day I think the principal wanted all the kids to have the opportunity to go and changed her mind and allowed all the kids to go.”
However, the parent we spoke to says she saw several kids sign out to leave before the party and she signed out her child as well.
She said she dropped off a check to pay her student’s $7.50 debt and left to celebrate the holidays with her son at home.
“My assumption was just to get my son out of the school and not have him,” she said. “He did start crying because he wanted to take a picture with Santa Claus which unfortunately, we did not.”
Adkins said the district needs parents to pay their lunch debts but would like to find other ways to make that happen in the future.
This isWest Texas. I’m hardly surprised.
". . . those who claim to know the Mind of God, who will tell you what God thinks and how He will judge and condemn others—those people are the greatest of all blasphemers." Aloysius Xingu Leng Pendergast
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