Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Candy Store Keys

     Without our realizing it, Jaren has likely been for years abusing his keys to the candy store of the D.O.E's creation.
     The state Department of Education (D.O.E.) in response to federal mandates, I guess, has for years required all parents to deposit monies into a child's lunch money on-line account, which parents do not have access to to monitor proper deposits or expenditures by their child or to insure no thefts have occurred. Parents must therefore request receipts for deposits and calculate the account's depletion rate over time by multiplying school days between replenishments of funds by cost per lunch.
     According to Deanne's and Braden's calculations, the balances have been proper for Braden and Pene who have to deposit cash—no checks allowed. Since Jared's school accepts checks, we never bothered to recalculate for accuracy.
     Big mistake. Last Friday, Pene approached Deanne and said, “When I picked up Jaren at school, a lady I never saw before approached me and said, 'Hi, I'm the school lunch monitor; I know your mom. Does she know Jaren's been eating second breakfasts and that's why his lunch monies keep running out so fast?'”
     We asked Jaren about it and he admitted he “took a few breakfasts and once or twice took second breakfasts and that was all.”
     Deanne attempted to compute the approximate misuse of funds and came up with several dollars worth missing, but without remembering actual balances reported to her (via a note in Jaren's binder when his account runs low), I knew it was largely guesswork. Nonetheless, I made Jaren pay us sixteen dollars plus gave him time-out all weekend and told Deanne to request the school to print-out all expenditures from Jaren's account by day and amount over the past year.
     On Monday, she got the list I requested that showed over fifty dollars of expenditures on breakfasts dated from when Deanne started working full-time late last year and second breakfasts, juice, and milk (most certainly chocolate—he has a sweet tooth) dated back to the beginning of the year, all of which he knew he was not supposed to purchase, which he kept secret, then lied about after we asked. I told Deanne this has probably been going on for years.
     So I had Jaren empty his wallet, which came out to approximately fifty dollars, plus gave him time-out the remainder of the month, plus took away some toys when he immediately disobeyed my order not to play.
     I then told Deanne to request the school to allow Jaren to purchase only lunches and nothing else.
     The school in response said that the system won't allow blanket blocks (comparable to parental computer controls over PC's) but they'll notify the lunch monitor to restrict Jaren's purchases according to our wishes. She also said we weren't the first to request this.
     What's disturbing about the D.O.E.'s role in this was that it was all avoidable and it took a nice, caring, conscientious lunch monitor to notify our daughter of Jaren's ongoing thievery. We should also have been notified immediately when it occurred years ago and initially been given the option to restrict purchases to lunches only, I believe.
     Not to get alarmist, but white-collar criminals start exactly this way. Steal a little once. See what happens. Nothing? Try again, this time a little more. Still okay? Get greedier and greedier and greedier. I'll never get caught, the perpetrator thinks.
     It's like tempting kids then teaching them the wrong ethical lesson when they succumb to temptation: steal from then lie to your parents.
     This anything-goes lunch-money account use by kids also can't be helping our nation's explosive obesity epidemic. If you're bored, eat! Why play outdoors, eat instead! it seems to suggest. And it's sad to think how many kids never get caught and carry out such thievery beyond elementary, middle, and high schools to clubs, workplace, or anywhere else they have easy, unaccountable access to money.

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