About a week after I unregistered our daughter from her previous school, I got an interesting piece of mail. Interesting is quite an understatement, I was pissed!
I got a Fine Slip from her old school, stating that I owed them money. What? Why in the world would I owe them money?
Lunch fees! That’s odd, why would I owe my daughter’s old school money for lunches when we send her to school every day with a packed lunch?
How Lunches Work at Her School
At my daughter’s old school, the children were given a 4 digit lunch/breakfast number. They would put the number into a little number pad and the amount would automatically be deducted from their meal account.
Parents would fund the meal accounts by cash, check or with their debit or credit card to pay for lunches ahead of time. Apparently the school find this easier to manage and reduces the issue of “lost” or “stolen” lunch money. Sounds like a good idea to me.
Our Daughter’s Meal Account
Every once in a while, very rarely, we would send her to school with a couple bucks to put into her account for a special occasion. Sometimes her grandma would splurge and get her a few lunches at a time.
This was always meant to be special, not an every day thing. Packing her lunches has been one of the ways we save money, it’s much cheaper to do than purchasing lunches at school each day. It’s also much healthier because we can make sure that she is getting a nice healthy variety every day.
What Went Wrong
Apparently our sneaky little butthead was getting breakfast (even though she had it at home before going to school) at school quite often. She didn’t ask us or even tell us about it. Since she didn’t have money in her meal account, the system just kept a running tab…isn’t that thoughtful of them!
We don’t starve our daughter, nor is she overweight. She is an average (maybe a little thin) sized child who gets plenty to eat.
She said that it’s fun to get breakfast at school and they also have more variety than we have at home. Plus, sometimes the teachers will let them finish their breakfast in class if they didn’t have enough time. What is she a hobbit? Second breakfast?
When I told her and questioned her about the fines, she fessed up after giving her a couple dirty looks. The most interesting thing is that she knew they would charge us the money and expected us to pay for it. WTF?
Oh, no. I explained to her that stuff isn’t free and since she pretty much stole lunches from her school that it wasn’t my problem. She told me that I had to pay it or I would get in big trouble.
I told her that she was going to have to pay for it herself and that I would feed her to the pigeons if she EVER did that again. She was really angry. She did not want to get into her savings account because she hates taking money out of there.
I explained to her that spending money on breakfasts or lunches when you don’t have the money, is just like how people use credit cards. You might not be paying at the time, but it still must be paid.
Once I actually get an opportunity (since we only have 1 car), I’m going to drive our daughter to her bank and have her withdraw the exact amount of the fines.
Then I’ll take her straight to her old school and have her give them the money and explain what she did and why it was wrong.
After that, I’ll figure out how much interest she’s going to lose over the next 5, 10 and 15 years including compounding and really drive it home.
As if this wasn’t all drama enough, I got another letter…3 days ago. This time it was from her new school who’s not too happy with me.
Our daughter’s old school is refusing to send the new school her transcripts until the money is paid to them. Aah! Now she’s making me look bad.
Unfortunately, my honey has been working a lot lately. Meaning that since we only have the one car, I can’t take our kiddo to her bank and old school yet.
I could just send them the money and get it done with to help the new school get her transcripts. But I will not! I really feel that my plan (getting her to the bank and school and fessing up) is the best course of action.
I don’t want to do it any other way because she will not feel the pain, and therefore won’t truly learn her lesson. Maybe her new school thinks I cheap, bad parent—but I don’t really care. They don’t have to deal with the long-term consequences of this.
Am I the only one who thinks schools are WAY wrong for allowing this?
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/pankseelen/6116791399/