AP

Schools that warned about lunch debt now accepting donation

Jul 25, 2019, 5:12 AM

In this Nov. 30, 2017 photo, Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based ...

In this Nov. 30, 2017 photo, Todd Carmichael, chief executive and co-founder of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, speaks to me media in Philadelphia. The president of a Pennsylvania school board whose district had warned parents behind on school lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care has rejected Carmichael's offer to cover the cost, the businessman said Tuesday, July 23, 2019.( AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

( AP Photo/Matt Rourke)

A Pennsylvania school district that warned parents behind on their lunch bills that their children could end up in foster care, and then rejected a businessman’s offer to pay the overdue charges, is apologizing and says it wants to accept the donation after all.

The Wyoming Valley West school board “sincerely apologizes for the tone of the letter that was sent regarding lunch debt,” the post on the district’s website Wednesday said. “It wasn’t the intention of the district to harm or inconvenience any of the families in our school district.”

The board also said that it would take a donation from Todd Carmichael, chief executive of Philadelphia-based La Colombe Coffee, to pay off the $22,000 in overdue bills, and that it would funnel the money through the district’s nonprofit foundation.

“No student was ever denied a meal for lack of payment,” the board wrote, adding it followed federal and state rules. “All meals served to students were chosen by the students from our regular menu. No shaming occurred and no alternate meals were provided.”

Michael Plaksin, president of the Wyoming Valley West Educational Foundation, said the decision to take the donation was made during discussions he had with members of the school board.

“What is going on is that the school will be able to accept money, donations, so that we will be able to pay off the program as soon as possible,” Plaksin said. The foundation is independent of the board, he said, although they work closely together.

District officials had recently written to parents, warning they “can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food,” and that children could be removed and placed in foster care.

Luzerne County child welfare authorities protested, saying they never remove children from homes over unpaid bills.

“Did people make mistakes? Of course mistakes were made,” said Plaksin, a Wyoming Valley West graduate. “Look, if three more people had proofread the letter before it was sent out, it never would have been sent out. It was that simple.”

Carmichael, the donor, said his offer to pay the bills was rejected by school board President Joseph Mazur during a phone conversation on Monday. Mazur, who signed the apology letter, has not responded to several messages.

State Rep. Aaron Kaufer, who attended district schools and represents the Wyoming Valley West area in the Legislature, said that when he could not get a district official on the phone Wednesday, he went there in person, and that after a long meeting officials told him the district would accept the money, funneled through the foundation.

“This issue needed to be laid to rest,” said Kaufer, a Luzerne County Republican. “We needed to get back to focusing on education.”

A spokesman for Carmichael, Aren Platt, said that the district’s plan was cause for optimism, but that Carmichael wants all the parents who received the letters to be contacted and told the debt has been paid off.

“This process has not given us a ton of confidence in the elected school board of Wyoming Valley West,” Platt said. “This is great, if they have figured it out, if they have legally figured out how the money moves and all of that, we welcome that.”

School officials have said they considered serving peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to students with overdue accounts but got legal advice warning against it. For the coming five school years, Wyoming Valley West has funding to provide free breakfasts and lunches for all students, regardless of income.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

AP

Republican presidential candidate former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley speaks at a Republican campaign ...

WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Haley says she raised $12M in February, can’t point to long-term plan to beat Trump

Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley said Friday that she raised $12 million in February, a haul that will likely allow her to remain in the Republican primary against former President Donald Trump past next week's Super Tuesday — even though she can't point to an upcoming state where she expects to beat him.

2 hours ago

February, 29, otherwise know as leap year day, is shown on a calendar Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, in Ove...

LEANNE ITALIE AP Lifestyles Writer

What would happen without a Leap Day? More than you might think

Leap year. It's a delight for the calendar and math nerds among us. So how did it all begin and why?

1 day ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump speaks at a primary election night ...

MEG KINNARD and WILL WEISSERT Associated Press

Trump wins South Carolina, easily beating Haley in her home state and closing in on GOP nomination

Donald Trump won South Carolina's Republican primary on Saturday further consolidating his path to a third straight GOP nomination.

6 days ago

Hannah Gutierrez-Reed, center, sits with her attorney Jason Bowles, left, during the first day of t...

MORGAN LEE Associate Press

Negligence or scapegoating? Trial of ‘Rust’ armorer begins in fatal shooting by Alec Baldwin

Prosecutors sought to pin blame on a movie weapons supervisor for bringing live ammunition on set that contributed to the fatal shooting of a cinematographer by Alec Baldwin during production of the film "Rust."

8 days ago

A pail rests next to caution tape on a beach in Lauderdale-by-the-Sea, Fla., on Tuesday, Feb. 20, 2...

Associated Press

Young girl killed when a hole she dug in the sand collapsed on a Florida beach, authorities said

A young girl died Tuesday when a deep hole she was digging collapsed on her at a south Florida beach, authorities said.

10 days ago

A Gila monster is displayed at the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, Dec. 14, 2018....

MEAD GRUVER Associated Press

A Colorado man is dead after a pet Gila monster bite

A Colorado man has died after being bitten by his pet Gila monster in what would be a rare death if the creature's venom was the cause.

10 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Mother and cute toddler child in a little fancy wooden cottage, reading a book, drinking tea and en...

Visit Bear Lake

How to find the best winter lodging in Bear Lake, Utah

Winter lodging in Bear Lake can be more limited than in the summer, but with some careful planning you can easily book your next winter trip.

Happy family in winter clothing at the ski resort, winter time, watching at mountains in front of t...

Visit Bear Lake

Ski more for less: Affordable ski resorts near Bear Lake, Utah

Plan your perfect ski getaway in Bear Lake this winter, with pristine slopes, affordable tickets, and breathtaking scenery.

front of the Butch Cassidy museum with a man in a cowboy hat standing in the doorway...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Looking Back: The History of Bear Lake

The history of Bear Lake is full of fascinating stories. At over 250,000 years old, the lake has seen generations of people visit its shores.

silhouette of a family looking over a lake with a bird in the top corner flying...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

8 Fun Activities To Do in Bear Lake Without Getting in the Water

Bear Lake offers plenty of activities for the whole family to enjoy without having to get in the water. Catch 8 of our favorite activities.

Wellsville Mountains in the spring with a pond in the foreground...

Wasatch Property Management

Advantages of Renting Over Owning a Home

Renting allows you to enjoy luxury amenities and low maintenance without the long-term commitment and responsibilities of owning a home.

Clouds over a red rock vista in Hurricane, Utah...

Wasatch Property Management

Why Southern Utah is a Retirement Paradise

Retirement in southern Utah offers plenty of cultural and recreational opportunities. Find out all that this region has to offer.

Schools that warned about lunch debt now accepting donation