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School Accused of Promoting 'Classism' with $100 Passes to Cut Lunch Line

The school's principal quickly disavowed the plan.

Alex Swerdloff

Photo via Flickr user DC Central Kitchen

Many kids start school concerned with whether they have the "right" sneakers or the coolest backpack. But recently, at one Florida school, students also had to worry about whether their parents would willing to shill out money so that they could skip to the front of the lunch line.

Yes, students at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy in Lakeland, Florida were offered the opportunity to cut to the front and get their food first—for a price. The school's Parent Teacher Student Association sent a letter to parents that went out in the school orientation packet offering parents the chance to contribute $100 to become a "Family or Business Sponsor," which entitles the family to have their "last name or Company logo featured on [the PTSA] website, as well as PTSA events AND [a] front of the lunch line pass."

Families were not pleased with the idea of a haves-and-have-nots lunch line, and backlash ensued pretty quickly. Chris Stephenson, a parent whose child attends the school, said, "It's 2017. This is not the 1960s. We're not telling people to go to the back of the bus 'cause you're poor. That's stupid!"

In fact, Stephenson pointed out to local News Channel 8, "Polk County has a very high rate of food insecurity when it comes to kids. With middle school already being a very contentious age, with hormones and everything else, the last thing you really want to do is add a food hierarchy on top of that."

The PTSA started peddling backwards fast. They claimed the letter was sent out "due to a clerical error," and that "this Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored, but we decided not to implement it." The principal of the school also sent an email to parents saying, "Please disregard this form as it was not approved prior to distribution. I do not approve of any donation that is tied to any student advantage or privilege on campus."

MUNCHIES has reached out to the Lawton Chiles Middle Academy PTSA for comment on the letter, but has not yet received a response. A spokesperson for the Polk County School District provided MUNCHIES with the following statement: "The principal did not approve of this fundraiser, and he was not aware that sponsor forms for such a fundraiser by the school's Parent Teacher Student Association were inside the orientation packets. This fundraiser will not be taking place at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy."

Sorry, rich kids of Lawton Chiles Middle Academy. Guess you'll have to wait in line for chicken nuggets like everybody else.