ASHLAND, MO (KOMU/CNN) - A school district in Missouri is threatening to take parents to court if they don't pay for their children's school lunches.
School officials said some parents haven't paid for lunches for their children from kindergarten all the way through their senior year.
Parents not paying for school lunch could face small claims court if their balance reaches $500, and parents could even miss events such as graduation ceremonies if they don't cooperate with the school district.
It's a decision the school board thinks will solve the nonpayment problem, a roughly $30,000 a year problem.
"We're talking about people who for one reason or another just refuse to pay," Superintendent Chris Felmlee said.
The superintendent said the problem has been ongoing for quite some time now.
"I think in the past there's been a hands-off approach. There's really been no consequence," he said.
He said around 70 families owe the school lunch money, "and so this policy allows us to take them to small claims court to try and receive that compensation back," Felmlee said.
The school board president said the parents can avoid the expense and hassle of a court appearance working with the school district on a simple payment plan.
"We will work out a payment plan for them. They can sign up for free and reduced lunch. Some of them just don't fill out the paperwork, and they have to fill out the paperwork in order for it to work," said Barrett Glascock, president of the school board.
The policy doesn't affect families that already receive government assistance to pay for food.
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