Girl with £4 school dinner debt given bread and jam
A mother has threatened to take her child out of school after she was given bread, butter and jam instead of school dinners.
Hazel Lebby, 37, from Warminster Way, Mitcham, was shocked to discover her six-year-old daughter Hannah had been denied a school lunch after she fell behind in her dinner payments to St Thomas’s School in Commonside East, Mitcham by just £4.
Unbeknown to Mrs Lebby, who works for the catering company that provides the school’s dinners at another school, her daughter had been given a substitute of two slices of bread and jam for two days.
She said: "I was supposed to pay it on Monday but my car broke down so I totally forgot about having to sort it out.
"Then the next morning I woke up with a leak. My carpet was soaking wet.
"I managed to get her to school on time but had to come back home and sort out the leak.
"I would never in a million years think they would refuse a child dinner because I’m a couple of days late.
"No one had made an attempt to phone me and tell me my daughter had not been having a dinner.
"The only reason I found out was because my daughter let it out."
Mrs Lebby received a text from the school to say that because she was in arrears by £4 and that there "may not" be a school lunch for her child today.
The mother has since made an official complaint to Merton Council and has said she does not want her daughter to return to the school.
But the school has defended the decision and the need to take drastic action after parents racked up £1,730 in unpaid dinner meals last year.
The school's headteacher, David Feasey, said: "We are liable for those arrears and if parents don’t pay we have to foot the bill and it’s taking money away from resources we could be spending on the children.
Sometimes people experience difficulties and we can work around that."
However did say he would "look into" the wording of the text message to make it clear to parents whether their child would be refused a school lunch.
He added: "It’s a parent’s responsibility to make sure their child is fed, not the schools. It’s a service we provide but it has to be paid for."
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