>>The district wrote parents, if you are
taken to dependency court, the result may be your child being removed from your home
and placed in foster care.>>That was a threat that was sent to students
and their parents in one Pennsylvania school district and this lead to a media firestorm. And now they’re backpedaling a little bit,
but the school district is Wyoming Valley West School District and they were concerned
about unpaid lunch fees. And so they sent these threatening letters
to parents saying, if you’re not gonna pay these fees, you might be in a lot of trouble
and your children might literally be taken away from you as a result of this. It’s gross. Wanna go to graphic two and read a quick excerpt
from this letter. Your child has been sent to school every day
without money and without breakfast and, or lunch. This is a failure to provide your child with
proper nutrition and you can be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child’s right to
food. I mean, you could argue that the people who
are trying to neglect a child’s right to food are members of the school district. Like I get it, this costs money. But have you ever considered that maybe it’s
not neglect, it’s lack of resources, inability to pay for food? So the punitive measures are gross and they
make no sense. And remember, right on the heels of the Trump
administration attempting to kick 3 million Americans off of the food stamp program. So before I open it up to the panel, I wanna
go to a longer NBC News story on this to give you some more details and then I wanna discuss.>>The threatening letter was sent to parents
at the Wyoming Valley West School District in Pennsylvania, trying to collect $22,000
owed by roughly 1,000 students. The district wrote parents, if you are taken
to Dependency Court, the result may be your child being removed from your home and placed
in foster care.>>It’s bordering on criminal, if you are
ask me for them to pull that on families.>>Sparking outrage, critics call the letter
lunch shaming. But the cash strapped district says, it needs
the money.>>It might be a bit too heavy for some people. No one wants to take their kids away from
them or to advocate that, but we were not getting a response.>>So this is a perfect example of The Hunger
Games scenario that Americans are placed in, because it is a cash strapped district. And when you are cash strapped, then what
do you do? I mean, you see Americans every day fighting
one another. People who are not in positions of power,
fighting one another as opposed to fighting a system that underfunds or defunds them on
a regular basis. That’s what the public school systems are
like here in the US right now.>>Yeah, I mean, there’s a lot in between
being cash strapped and threatening to put kids in foster care over $75 as you saw in
that one letter. I feel like there’s something in between.>>What do you think it is?>>I don’t know, but it’s definitely never
threatening a parent of putting a kid in foster care. JR and I were talking about this morning on
the damage report. But that even when kids are enrolled in the
free lunch program, it’s embarrassing. It’s a different food. It’s punitive. It looks like and for what your parents can
afford, and I just think there should be more compassion. This is the 25th store we’ve seen this year
of some school district doing something awful->>Yeah.>>To a child and what if your kid reads and
reads the paper, because the mom’s at work. And so the kid goes through the mail or something
like that, who knows? That’s just a horrible thing to say to any
parent, especially over $75 and there’s got to be a different way to come up with this
money. I get it, you have to pay for food. The food’s not that great to begin with. And when people can’t pay for it, when parents
can’t pay for it, it’s usually, because they’re poor. And kids shouldn’t be punished with threats
of going to foster care, with threats of having your plate thrown away in the trash, so that
they can get a sack lunch or something else. It’s not okay.>>Yeah, the psychological stress of knowing
that you are in a poor family that doesn’t have the resources for the bare necessities
of life. That’s traumatic enough for a kid and it’s
difficult to focus on your studies when you are dealing with that, but you’re right. I mean, there is the added pressure and stress
of reading something like that. And knowing that my God, I might be taken
away from my parents, because of their inability to pay for these lunches.>>How could after the second or the third
time we see that the kids not paying for their lunch. How come there’s not a letter sent home to
parents saying, hey, we’ve noticed that little Bobby hasn’t had money for lunch three times
in a row. We were wondering if maybe you qualify for
this government program, for this free lunch program. We’re wondering if maybe you do and we have
the form here in this packet, fill it out. We’ll see what we can do for you.>>Well, it’s actually worse than that. So I wanna hear what you guys think about
this. So when this story started getting a lot of
attention, there was a CEO who stepped in and said, this is ridiculous, I’ll pay for
the unpaid fees. La Colombe Coffee CEO Todd Carmichael said,
the Wyoming Valley West School board’s president on Monday told him no when he offered to give
the district $22,000 to cover the outstanding debts. He wasn’t given a reason as to why. And look, I know that this is a band aid and
you need a real fix. But why would you say no to that, if you’re
really cash strapped and you’re literally threatening parents, and saying that you’re
gonna take their kids away if they don’t pay for the fees?>>What are the defining features of the American
system and you see it with the story? You see it with the previous story is a unrelenting
an all-out war on poor people. That is the default position of any government
system in the United States, any sort of the media ecosystem. It is an unrelenting war on poor people. That is the defining future like they force
poor people to fight for the scraps.>>Yes.>>Right, I mean, like it’s, what is it? Like 50% of Americans can’t afford a $400
unexpected expense. The fact that they force kids in the first
place to pay for lunch is an outrage. I mean, they should be for free for everyone. That’s like a basic thing in most public school
system around the world. The fact that they force kids to pay for their
own here is just shows how they’re squeezing the education system more and more as time
goes one. Whether it’s defunding teacher salaries or
school lunches or arts programs or whatever, they’re they’re just turning these schools
into these kind of dystopian places where kids are going hungry. And they have to worry about getting shot
and they have to do active school shooting drills, and stuff like that. It’s an absolute nightmare scenario and something
that has a relatively easy fix. I mean, school lunch funding is not a huge
expense like in the grand scheme of things, in the grand scheme of things or the federal
budget. It’s a tiny, tiny, tiny percentage of the
federal budget. It could be done tomorrow and no one would
notice a difference, except for the people who actually rely on this kind of thing.>>Well, we gotta give the wealthy tax cuts,
right?>>Absolutely true, trillion dollar tax cut. It’s good. It’ll trickle down to the public school lunch.>>$2 trillion.>>$2 trillion, I forgot. I always forget, but give or take a trillion. Who’s gonna notice?>>It’s crazy. It really is and we have to change the system. This is the reason why the politicians who
have a message of economic justice resonate, because people wanna do something about this. I mean, you see like the disparity between
the rich and the poor. It’s out of control. It’s crazy. We shouldn’t have a single person living on
the streets in this country. Yet, we have like a-
>>500,000.>>Explosive or explosion, I should say, homeless
of the homeless population and then you have people who have like 28 homes.>>Yes.>>28 mansions.>>And every single person that, that letter
pass through as far as like approval, ideas, what should we put in it, every single on
of them, they are not equipped to work at a school district. They thought that this was higher up than
teachers and principals and vice principals, obviously, it wasn’t. They’re not working day to day directly with
children, but they are not equipped. Obviously, every single person at this pass-through
and that approved this and had anything to do with this letter, they are not in a mental
space to have anything to do with children.>>Absolutely and school district is now trying
to walk back the letter and the head of the school board is arguing that this was a misstep
and it shouldn’t be put this way. You don’t like the negative attention. Let’s keep it real and this was unnecessarily
punitive, and threatening toward parents. And I like the people are rising up and they’re
shaming the school district for doing what they did. This
was unacceptable.