Parents in Lakeland, Florida are upset over a PTSA sponsorship form they received to start the school year.
The form asked for sponsors for certain dollar amounts, with the money going to help the school.
Parents were concerned about the $100 sponsorship amount, which offers people who pay that amount, their last name or business logo on their website, as well as PTSA events AND front of the lunch line pass.
“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,” parent Chris Stephenson told News Channel 8.
Stephenson shared the form in a Facebook post, which has since garnered hundreds of comments from upset parents. One person who commented said the lunch line pass will make disadvantaged students feel like second-class citizens.
“It’s like, ‘I have money, I’m in the front of line now. All you poor kids get in the back of the line,’” Stephenson said.
“I have strived to be as inclusive as possible with all kids and this is not something I support,” said Principal Brian Andrews. Andrews told News Channel 8 he did not approve of this fundraiser and he was not aware that sponsor forms for such a fundraiser were inside orientation packets. “This fundraiser will not be taking place at Lawton Chiles Middle Academy,” Andrews said in an email to parents.
Andrews said he also addressed the issue with PTSA members, who are volunteers.“ As a PTSA group, they’re always looking to for creative ways to raise funds. I think it was brainstorming on their part, unfortunately, it needs to be approved by me, however, it seems like this didn’t pass my desk,” he said.
Since the form was sent home, PTSA president Jil Bevis responded saying that it was sent home due to a clerical error.
“The Lawton Chiles Middle academy PTSA is a group of volunteers including Parents, Teachers, Students and Administrators. We strive to look for new and innovative fundraising ideas to enhance the school experience for our students. We offer a variety of fundraising options for our students and families to choose from each year. This Family and Business Sponsorship program was explored, but we decided to not implement. Due to a clerical error, the form was inadvertently included in the Orientation packets. Our families have been notified this program is not being offered. The intent of our PTSA is to always do the best for our students and families.” – Jil Beis, LCMA PTSA President 2017-2018