School accused of shaming students with 'lunch money' stamp

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 Photo: iStock

As any parent knows, it can be difficult to keep track of when money needs to be paid for fees, books, excursions, sport and all the other things kids get up to at school.

But one US school has come under fire for its method of reminding parents their child's lunch money account is overdue.

Tara Chavez noticed the stamp on her son's wrist and showed her friend Juan Fortenberry, who shared the image on Twitter.

"My friend's son came home from school Thursday with a stamp on his arm that said 'LUNCH MONEY' because his account was low," he wrote.

Tara told Buzzfeed she was shocked by the school's treatment of her son, who is in Grade 2.

"My kid's really weird about stuff like that, so I asked if he was given a choice by the lunch lady and he said, 'No, she just grabbed my wrist and put the stamp on,'" she said.

"I was surprised," she continued. "Normally I get a slip in his folder when he needs more money."

Tara emailed the principal of Desert Cove Elementary to ask about the incident and was told the staff member who stamped her son was not following protocol, and was supposed to offer children a slip or a stamp.

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The school still served the boy lunch despite his account being low, but Tara said he still felt upset by the incident. "He was humiliated," she said, "didn't even want me to take a picture of it."

Twitter users who saw Juan's post offered their opinions.

"Sounds like purposeful shaming when phones, emails and written notes/letters are options. Our new world," one person wrote.

"They did this to me growing up in Colorado too, so it's been around at least 20 years," commented another.

Of course, all of this could be avoided by ensuring the child's account wasn't low, but who can honestly say they remember to pay every school expense by the due date? I sure can't.

I was down at my son's school last week on the morning of his excursion to pay at the office and sign his permission slip because the whole thing had fallen by the wayside in the general chaos of life and I didn't want him to miss out. Luckily, my school didn't brand my son with "Art Excursion" on his arm to remind the world how forgetful his mother can be.

Humiliating children for their parents' errors – or as a way of basic communication in an age where we have so many options for getting in touch – is inexcusable. Hopefully this school, and any others employing the practice, have learned from this experience.