A Pennsylvania school district has apologized for threatening foster care to parents who hadn’t paid their students' lunch debt, and changed its mind about accepting a local businessman’s donation to pay off the outstanding balances.

In an undated online letter, the Wyoming Valley West School District said it “sincerely apologizes” for the tone of its letters mailed to parents that threatened to put their kids in foster care if they didn’t pay.

The district said it “decided to accept” an offer from Todd Carmichael, the CEO of La Colombe Coffee Roasters headquartered in Philadelphia, to pay off more than $22,000 worth of debt for local students.


“It wasn’t the intention of the district to harm or inconvenience any of the families of our school district,” the apology reads. “We have decided to accept Mr. Carmichael’s generous donation. It will be directed to the Wyoming Valley West Educational Foundation to eliminate the debt owed by the parents.”

The district added that for the first time, it fully qualifies for the Community Eligibility Program, a U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Service program that allows high-poverty schools to serve free meals to kids at no cost to enrolled students.

“As a result, all students of the Wyoming Valley West School District will receive free breakfast and lunch in all of our schools for the next five years regardless of income,” the letter reads.

The news comes after the district faced backlash earlier this month for its letters to parents that told parents “you could be sent to Dependency Court for neglecting your child’s right to food.”

Earlier this week, Carmichael said he had stepped up, offering to donate the money to the school, but the school board’s president rejected his help.