Tales of The Trouble Maker Parent

Alex went back to school today. Neither of us was overly excited by that fact. We both bemoaned getting up early again, the homework and not having him home during the day. I had cookies and milk waiting when he got off the bus, hoping to make the slip back into after school routine of chores and homework a little easier. As he was emptying his folder he started to hand me two slips of paper, then stopped and looked them over.

He said, 'Mom, a lot of people got one of these one's today..but I'm the only one who had a green one too. Some of the other kids were laughing at me saying I was in trouble. Can you please send lunch money in tomorrow?'

I took the sheets and one was informing me of his lunch $$ balance (-$3.10) and the other was a slip stating the new lunch procedure that became effective in November. Here is what it says:

New Lunch Procedure
Last year and this year, we have struggled with students having negative balances in their lunch accounts. Beginning in November we will start a new procedure to deal with negative balances. Any time a student's balance reaches -$3.20 (equivalent to two lunches), that student will be charged for a lunch but will receive a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and milk. Low balance notices will be sent home on Mondays and Thursdays and negative notices will go out every day. If you have any questions, please contact the school office at 555-1212.

When they sent these notices out in November I was highly irritated. First, it doesn't seem fair to embarrass a child in front of other kids. Nor does it seem right to punish a child, especially with food, for the forgetfulness of the parents or circumstances that may be out of their control.

Their system is flawed this year as many times a lunch balance will go below the cost of one lunch on a day that is not a balance notice day. So when you receive the notice saying that it is $1.25, and does not reflect that days lunch purchases you are already in the negative. Last year you were notified if it was under $2.00 the same day. Very rarely has this been an issue for us, but on occasion we have simply not had any money until payday to put into the account. We could of course pack a lunch, but again...we have gotten to the point where I have been out of bread and realized on that morning he had no choice but to eat school lunch. The only reason this happened this time is because The last day of school, before Christmas break, was on Wednesday. Therefore no notices were sent out. Obviously his balance was already low.

I know in the grand scheme of things...lunch procedure and policy is not a huge burning problem. I am however furious that my son was laughed at today, made to feel embarrassed and that I feel reprimanded by the school for an honest oversight. And I honestly believe that the policy itself is wrong and unfair to the child. Prince Charming is furious..not because of today..but just because of the policy in General. He is upset that I won't call the school and voice how we feel. But..I am already known as the trouble maker parent to many. The sad thing is that I know that other parents share my concerns now and have in the past. But for the sake of my son I refuse to be the one to voice my opinion first and single him out any more than I already have.

Do you agree with the policy or not? Why?

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