Middle school students shamed for having lunch debt, parents say

STANLY COUNTY, N.C. — Some parents in Stanly County are upset over rules they believe are meant to shame students with lunch debt.

North Stanly Middle School says it has an outstanding balance of more than $4,000.

Students are being held from getting their report cards, and yearbooks and participating in some activities.

Some of the things North Stanly Middle School is planning on withholding from students include no end-of-year activities, no yearbook, and no report card.

“To me, it’s not fair,” parent Brianna Darga said. “They are probably already feeling a little bit of shame.”

The school wrote it has $4,500 in student lunch debt.

Some community members shared the post and offered to donate.

The school said it’s received about $120 in donations toward the debt.

Channel 9 Q&A with Stanly County Schools:

How many of the students have outstanding balances? As of 5.24.23, NSMS’s total number of 61 students has accumulated a total debt of $4,561.37.

Does the school differentiate between those who cannot afford it vs. parents who just aren’t paying before withholding things from the student?

  • Free and reduced applications are sent home at the beginning of the school year and are available online year-long by visiting the school or district website under the resources tab. Families that are in need of assistance can complete the application process at any time.
  • The school district recognizes that during the past several years all meals were free for all students due to COVID, and now that some students have to pay this has resulted in additional charges.

How many opportunities does the school give students to pay before resorting to withholding these things?

The school system works with all families throughout the school year to recover any and all fees and charges that may be owed. Concerning meal charges, the child nutrition director and principal work together jointly to prevent meal charges from accumulating and make every effort to collect all funds due to the child nutrition program before the end of the school year. Means of communication include:

  • Weekly letters are provided by the school to inform parents of their student’s account balance.
  • Phone calls are initiated by the school to inform parents of their student’s account balance.
  • Parents who utilize the online payment system will receive email notifications of the account balance.

If the community wants to donate, how can they do that? We would be happy to speak with anyone. Please contact the district office at 704-961-3000.

VIDEO: A nutritionists’ tips to saving time and money when packing school lunches