Hughson High parents caught off-guard by lunch letter

naustin@modbee.comApril 25, 2013 

— Some parents of Hughson High School students were unhappy with an apparent change in cafeteria policy that would have prevented teens from putting lunch on a charge account starting May 1.

But the news caught district administrators by surprise. After looking into it, Superintendent Brian Beck said Thursday the letter to parents, which also was posted on the school's Facebook page, was not authorized and school policy has not changed.

"An inaccurate letter was mistakenly sent out. There are no changes to the system that has been in place," Beck said.

The system, however, does not follow district policy. "Board policy states we do not allow high school kids to charge their meals, but the cafe has let them anyway," he said, adding that the employee who sent the letter was trying to get lunch debts settled before the end of the school year.

For Kristin James, who has three children in Hughson schools, the post was "wrong on so many levels." She called it insensitive. The post has since disappeared from the Hughson page and from her own Facebook wall.

James initially said she and friends were planning a protest rally during the Hughson High lunch period. Told the policy would not be implemented, James said she still might bring sandwiches May 1 in case there are teens who cannot afford the $2.50 for lunch.

Students eligible for free lunches are never charged, and Beck said the school has alternatives in place for others. "Even the kids whose parents won't settle up on their balance get offered an alternative lunch, typically PB&J," he said.

Roughly 44 percent of Hughson High students qualify for free or reduced-price lunch.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at naustin@modbee.com or (209) 578-2339, on Twitter, @NanAustin, www.modbee.com/education.

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