As the coordinator of an afterschool program for middle school students in a low-income community, I am deeply disturbed by the reports by VDOE and JustChildren regarding mandatory school fees. While these fees may be very affordable for most parents, they may adversely affect low-income families whose children are, statistically-speaking, already at a competitive disadvantage.
Most of these fees are likely illegal, and even if legal, should not be forced upon families who cannot afford to pay, with threats hanging over their childrens' heads. VDOE's report showed that out of 64 school districts that reported that they charge school fees, only 20 have a policy regarding families with financial hardships and 9 of those actually notify families of it. That is deplorable, and needs immediate attention.