Mother Clashes With School Over Lunch Money Dispute

When parents send their kids off to school, theyre generally entering into a social contract with the administration.

The parents trust that the school will keep their kids safe during the day, and give them the learning and experience they need to keep progressing.

The school trusts that the parents will continue enrichment at home, and make sure the kids get to school and fulfill their obligations.

When that contract breaks down, thats often where problems arise between teachers and parents. One of the chief sources of tension? Disputes about how children should or shouldnt be disciplined, as we saw with this third grader stamped for running out of lunch money.

Now, another similar conflict is arising at Londons Michaela Community School, where parents are distraught over the schools strict lunch policy and aggressive punishments, when the kids aren’t really at fault.

Scroll on through the gallery below to learn more about the schools policies, and what set off the conflict between parents and administration.


It all started whena single mom at Wembley’s Michael Community School received a threatening letter from one of the school’s administrators, which was then tweeted by Richard Adams, the education editor atThe Guardian.All emphasis theirs, the body of the letter reads:

“The deadline for this term’s lunch payments was 1st June 2016. You are nowone week overdue.

You are currently75 overdue. If this full amount is not received within this week, your child will be placed intoLunch Isolation from Monday13th June 2016.

They will receive a Sandwich and a piece of fruit only. They will spend the entire 60minutes period in lunch isolation.

Only when the entire outstanding sum is paid in full will they be allowed into family lunch with their classmates.”

Facebook/ Michaela Community School

The mother who received the letter, identified bytheDaily Mailas Dionne Kelly, is currently unemployed, and had fallen behind on a payment of roughly $100, required at the beginning of each term to pay for lunch for her 12-year-old son.

The Michaela Community School is a free secondary school, what would be called a public school in the United States.

However, despite not being charged tuition, parents are expected to pay the equivalent of a few hundred dollars a year to provide their children with the school’s mandatory family lunch.

The school’s policy states, “Our on-site chef caters for all food requirements and allergies with a varied and nourishing vegetarian offering, so all Michaela children will eat the food that is provided by the school.”

Facebook/ Michaela Community School

The school’s rigid lunch program is part of a strict disciplinarian ethos championed by the Michaela School’s headmistress, Katharine Birbalsingh, who has expressed that, “The main thing that keeps children behaving properly is not just the punishment, it’s the ethos and culture of the school you establish precisely by having… routines and consistency.”

Students at the school are expected to carefully follow the guidelines laid out by the administration.

The school’s official Behavior System Policy includes indicts of non-disciplined behavior, including, “slouching, daydreaming, non-tracking, or distracting.

Furthermore, punishments for bad behavior focus on isolatingstudents and embarrassing them socially.

Smaller infractions might result simply in detention after school, much like most standard schools apply.

More serious conflicts will lead to a punishment that the school calls, “Internal Isolation.”

In this system, kids go through the ordinary school day, but are kept isolated from their classmates and are not allowed to interact with other children.

This punishment may be given for an hour or two at a time, or for a whole day.

It’s an especially stringent punishment at lunchtime, because of the school’s enthusiastic support of family lunch, a large unified hot meal where childrentake turns serving food and clearing plates, and engage in conversation over their meal.

While different parents are likely to have their own opinions on how kids should be disciplined when they misbehave, most will agree that children shouldn’t be punished for a parental infraction, especially one that the parent is helpless to fix.

Because the school is a free school in a lower-income area of London, the obligation to pay hundreds of dollars a year for a mandatory meal plan might be untenablefor some parents who still want their children to receive the top-notch education available at Michaela.

What do you think about this thorny dilemma? Do you think the school had the right to send such a letter? Let us know below!

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