When Lawton Chiles Middle Academy parents learned they could pay $100 for their child to get a “front of the lunch line pass,” some weren’t too happy.

  • Polk middle school principal denounces 'front of the lunch line pass'
  • Form sent out with kids about a $100 lunch line pass
  • Principal told parents to disregard, said it was mistake

“Polk County has got a very high rate of food insecurity when it comes to kids. With middle school being already a contentious age with hormones and everything else, the last thing you want to do is add like a food hierarchy on top of that by saying my dad has more money than you, I get to eat first. You have to wait. They only have about 20 minutes to eat as it is,” said Chris Stephenson, whose son just started sixth grade at the magnet school in Lakeland.

The form was created by the school’s Parent, Teacher, Student Association or PTSA and was included in the students’ orientation packet.

“Who allowed unapproved documents to be distributed to 300 some odd students without having read it. Somebody messed up big somewhere and that’s what needs addressed,” Stephenson said.

The school’s principal Brian Andrews estimates around 600 students received it.  He said he wasn’t aware of the form until Wednesday night. The first time he saw it was the first day of school.

“I was really not happy,” Andrews explained.

In a statement sent to reporters, President of the PTSA Jil Bevis said:

“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.”

As of 5 p.m. Thursday, the form was still on the group’s website.

After learning about the form, Andrews sent an email to parents, asking them to disregard the form. He also stated he disapproves of any donation tied to “any student advantage or privilege on campus.”

“We don’t want any kids feeling like second class citizens. We don’t," he said. "That’s on me as the principal so ultimately, it is my responsibility what goes out to the kids. Again mistakes are made, but I think how the mistakes are recovered are important. And we did recover.”

Andrews said he had a conversation with the organization’s new president to remind her everything must be approved by him before being sent out to parents.