School Extorts $40 from Low-Income Family for Supplies Student Already Has

I've always been curious about parents who have school supply horror stories. I sure have my own from when my son was in elementary school. Few of us will be able to match Canadian parent Kevin Sacobie's experiences this year, however.

CBC reports: "A father on social assistance whose son started Grade 3 with pencils and notebooks supplied by the Fredericton food bank says the school is hounding him to pay $40 for essentially the same supplies bought by his son's teacher."

"We felt really bushwhacked — embarrassed is a good way to put it," Kevin Sacobie said as he described the school's demand of $40 for supplies.

Principal Jack Hay said that the majority of teachers at Nashwaaksis Memorial School opted to purchase enough school supplies to last the year and asked each student to pay $40.

"For Sacobie, this was $40 he didn't have — for supplies his son did not need," CBC said.

It's not unusual for teachers to pick up supplies for students, particularly for students who don't have their own. In fact, I think every teacher my children have had in school has done this.

What they haven't done is simply buy all the supplies, then expect money for those supplies from parents who sent their kid to school with the things they needed.

Sacobie is apparently not a particularly well-off father, financially. Why that's the case is irrelevant. He isn't, and he got help to make sure his son got the supplies he needed.

He didn't get a $40 donation to pay the teachers. He got supplies.

Yet the school actually sent them back on the first day and told him that his son couldn't use his own supplies, but had to use the ones the teachers provided...for $40.

Now, he says he's being hounded by the school.

"I was waiting for him across the street by the Chinese restaurant," he said. "I had seen my son exit the school and as he came across the school yard and across the street, he had the assistant principal coming with him. And the assistant principal came across the road and approached me and began to start asking (about) student fees that we were unable to come up with as of yet."

"And he actually asked me this right in front of other parents that were standing around and the other kids as well. My wife was in the car with the baby," the father explained. "So I had to take it upon myself to say, 'Can we at least discuss this away from the crowd so to speak?'"

The assistant principle ignored the request.

That wasn't a lone incident, either.

But why did the teachers feel they needed to buy supplies in the first place? Well, for one thing, they claim they can get a better price in bulk than parents can individually. Then there was the obligatory bit about "not standing out by being different" that seems all the rage these days.