San Diego

SDUSD Mistakenly Notifies Wrong Families for Free or Reduced Lunch

The email, dated Aug. 4, was actually sent out Wednesday morning

The San Diego Unified School District says it made a mistake when it notified thousands of families that their children could get free and reduced lunch--a benefit given to students from low-income families.

The email, dated Aug. 4, was actually sent out Wednesday morning.

It read, in part: "Each child identified below is automatically directly certified and approved for free meals for the 2017 -2018 school year. You do not need to submit an application for free and reduced priced meals."

Gary Petill, Director of Food and Nutrition Services, told NBC 7, the email was a mistake.

"Today we had a glitch in our computing system with the software program," Petill said.

He said students who are directly certified and approved for free meals include foster youth, migrant youth, children whose families qualify for Cal Fresh--which were once food stamps--and families on Medi Cal.

The problem is the email was sent to the wrong group of families.

"It went out to 13,000 families. It could have gone out to 40,000," said Petill.

He added that as soon as the error was identified, another e-mail was sent to parents explaining the situation.

Some parents who did mistakenly receive the email knew something was wrong.

Comments on a Facebook post include:

"I thought it was spam."

"I was quite confused."

"I thought it was odd.”

"I haven't seen the comments," Petill said, speaking of the Facebook post. "I’ve spoken to some of the parents and they say we don't want to take money away from kids who should have it."

Two hours after the first letter was emailed, at 8 a.m., Petill said the process was stopped and then a correction letter was sent out.

"It will also tell them they can apply online if they feel their income meets eligibility guideline based on household income," Petill said.

That household income threshold is $44,444 a year for a family of four.

"I would be really surprised if someone would try to take advantage of it," said Scripps Ranch parent, Laura Maxwell. "That would be bad."

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