Missouri parent upset she can’t see h.s. son’s grades without paying fees

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OAK GROVE, Mo. -- A parent of an Oak Grove High School student is upset over a fee the school is charging her, and the punishment for families who can't pay those fees.

The school tells FOX 4  the fee and punishment are standard procedure.

"Oak Grove High School is charging the parents for art class and shop expenses," said Angela Mullin, who has a 15-year-old son, a sophomore at the school.

"If I wanted to pay for my son's classes, I would definitely send him to private school," said Mullin.

She says the school is charging her $20 for supplies for her son's electives.

"My son's on free lunches and I can't afford this fee," Mullin added.

She says without paying this fee, her son's report cards are on hold, along with 317 other children according to her.

"The problem is I don't have the extra $20, the $20 feeds my family a day," said Mullin, "If I have an extra $20, we're going to buy groceries."

Mullin says she's a student herself, a single mom, and she has a sick daughter. She says she's run out of options and doesn't know what to do.

"I've asked the school time and time again, told them I couldn't afford this, they said they'll take five bucks at a time, I don't even have five bucks," Mullin said.

According to the Missouri Department of Education, schools give out a list of suggested supplies for the courses every year. Technically you are not obligated to purchase those supplies and the district is still responsible for teaching your student in that selected course.

Oak Grove High School principal, Adam Salmon, says parents and students are aware there are fees for some of these classes right from the start, and they can choose to take an elective that doesn't have a fee if they don't want to pay.

"You know they have an image to uphold, they don't want people to know that your parents are poor, and you know it's very embarrassing for the teachers to ask my child where that $20 is," said Mullin.

Mullin says one of her son's teachers wrote students names on the board who haven't yet paid their fees.

"I was infuriated, it was terrible, who publicly humiliates somebody in school?" Mullin said. "They're there to learn."

The state says since this is an elective, it would be up to the district  to set its own policy. While he wouldn't go on camera, the principal did say report cards are withheld for a variety of reasons.

FOX 4 has received many calls and offers to help Mullin pay the fee. Look for an update from FOX 4's Melissa Stern Friday at 6 p.m.