A School Is Putting Kids In Detention If Their Parents Can't Afford School Lunch

Michaela Community School in London is being slated online after the school’s principle, Katharine Birbalsingh, decided to take a rather extreme measure to get parents to pay up for their children’s school dinner. 

Parent Dionne Kelly, who fell behind on payments for her 12-year-old son, posted a letter she recently received from the school on Twitter. It says that if she doesn’t pay up the £75, her son will be placed into “lunch isolation” and have a limited lunch of a sandwich and a piece of fruit. 

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Kelly, an unemployed single mother, says she received the letter two weeks after her son started at the school. She added that she had not yet had the opportunity to apply for free meals, making the bill a surprise. She told the Daily Mail:

“I found the letter quite threatening. Isolating children for their parents not paying upfront is degrading. It’s embarrassing for poor families.”

She pointed out that the letter appeared to be addressed to several parents, as it began with “Dear families,” but the school would not say if others had received it. 


Dan Kitwood / Getty

Birbalsingh said that the radical method was an attempt to encourage parents to ‘”change their ways” and support their children. She added:

“The letter from Barry Smith…was sent in an attempt to encourage mum to change her ways and support her son by paying for his food.”

“The vast majority of secondary schools use isolation to discipline children.”

Though she was quickly criticized after saying that “lunch isolation” is typically used to allow children a chance to reflect on bad behavior. It seems odd to punish a child for something that is totally out of their control. 

Kelly also claims to have paid the money on time, but that her son was still put into “lunch isolation” for a day. Birbalsingh responded to the allegations by saying that mom didn’t pay up on time and that the detention was the result of bad behavior the day before. 

Kelly has since moved her child to another school and hopes to be able to reclaim the money she paid. Birbalsingh hasn’t been having a good time on Twitter as a result of the letter:

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