School accused of 'tattooing' students who have no lunch money

A second-grade student in Phoenix, Arizona was given a stamp on his wrist because he couldn't pay for his lunch.

A photo was shared with a friend of the student's mother, who shared it on Twitter:

"My friend's son came home from school Thursday with a stamp on his arm that said 'LUNCH MONEY' because his account was low," said the Twitter user, whom BuzzFeed News identified as Juan Fortenberry. "And this is apparently the way at least one school in Arizona is notifying parents of dwindling lunch funds."

Fortenberry expressed his distaste over the stamp: "Looks like shaming to me. Like, y'all couldn't send a note? Y'all couldn't think for two seconds about the numerous references of branding someone as a stigma?"

The photo of the child's wrist went viral on the site, receiving hundreds of likes and retweets.

Check out social reactions

Social reactions to 'lunch money' stamp
See Gallery
Social reactions to 'lunch money' stamp
@juanyfbaby They did this to me growing up in Colorado, too, so it's been around for at least 20 years ☹️
@juanyfbaby We got stamps on our hands ten years ago at my elementary school. They once took my lunch away in front of my friends too
@juanyfbaby @shala1009 My high school used to do this just this year. I got my lunch taken away at least twice.
@tesscatherine @juanyfbaby We got hand stamps in elementary, but they were small and a fun shape. Lunch staff didn'…
@obrient911 @juanyfbaby I owed under a dollar in middle school and they didn't let me take the tray off the line
@juanyfbaby That's not remotely OK
@juanyfbaby @_b_e_n_c_ HOW MUCH DOES A CUSTOM STAMP COST buy some lunches fucc this got me heated
@juanyfbaby SHAME on the school. Who does this to kids?
@juanyfbaby This is abuse. What the hell?! Branding a child - doesn't matter if it's ink - for money is unacceptable.

The student's mother, Tara Chavez, told BuzzFeed News that her child was humiliated by the stamp. Apparently, the lunch lady at Desert Cove Elementary School did not give him a choice over whether to be stamped.

"Normally, I get a slip in his folder when he needs more money," she said. "He was humiliated, didn't even want me to take a picture of it." When Chavez checked the lunch money balance online, it had 75 cents on it.

She emailed the school's principal, who said that the aim is not to humiliate -- and students are supposed to be given a choice of the stamp or a reminder slip.

The incident has caused concern over whether the stamp policy should remain. On Monday, an editorial called "Why Are Paradise Valley Schools Publicly Shaming Students Who Run Out Of Lunch Money?" was published in the Phoenix New Times.

In an update, the New Times reported that Desert Cove Elementary will no longer use stamps to notify parents of a low balance. Paradise Valley Unified School District spokesperson Becky Kelbaugh told the New Times: "It was never the intention of Desert Cove Elementary School administration and staff to embarrass any student by using the stamp. Students were given the choice between a letter or reminder stamp. Going forward, Desert Cove Elementary School will send a letter home notifying parents of low lunch balances."

Read Full Story