The Cherry Hill school district passed a policy on Tuesday night, Oct. 15, that prohibits high school students who owe $75 or more in lunch debt from attending field trips, the prom, and other extracurricular activities, ABC News reported.
High school and middle school students will be barred from participating in extracurriculars excluding athletics, buying tickets for school dances like the prom, attending class trips, and buying a yearbook.
Elementary school students cannot participate in after-school activities and attend field trips.
It is, however, according to the Courier-Post, a discretionary policy, meaning the penalties have the potential to be waived by a principal on a case-by-case basis.
The school district, in the last school year, had $14,343 in unpaid meal debt from more than 300 students who had a debt of more than $10, according to NJ.com. The $3 million food program turned a $200,000 profit in the last school year despite the lunch debts.
The policy received swift backlash from parents and students. Superintendent Dr. Joseph Meloche urged those criticizing the policy to take note that it does not include a state statute, which would require meals to be withheld from students who owe lunch money, according to ABC News.
“Money is certainly something that we have to deal with. That’s our world, but that’s not the most important thing that we’re addressing in terms of the policy and the work that’s being done,” Meloche said. “It’s about supporting children and supporting families … sometimes the right thing is not the easy thing to do.”