By Kimberly Davis

QUAKERTOWN, Pa. (CBS) — A school lunch debate is heating up in Bucks County. The Quakertown School District says parents aren’t paying their children’s lunch debt, leaving the district to eat up the cost. On Thursday night, the school board voted on a new policy that some are calling unfair.

It wasn’t a quick decision, but the Quakertown Community School District voted to penalize all students who have racked up a school lunch debt with a vote of seven to two.

It’s a problem the school district says continues to get worse. You could consider it a form of dine and dash — students run up a hefty lunch tab and parents not fulfilling the debt.

But this new policy was a contentious school board matter.

“If we had not returned that equipment or we had not paid for it, I do not have a problem that she wouldn’t have walked through graduation. That is a consequence of being a deadbeat and not fulfilling your obligations,” Jennifer Weed said.

Students have racked up more than $27,000 worth of unpaid lunches throughout the district but the board voted on a solution Thursday night.

Moving forward, parents and guardians will receive written notices regarding their child’s lunch debt and will have 30 days to pay off the debt after meeting with the school principal.

If the debt is not settled within 30 days, the student will not be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities, including the graduation ceremony.

If that debt exceeds $1,000, the matter will be turned over to a collection agency.

“These were people from middle to upper-middle class families that absolutely could afford to pay, they were just being irresponsible,” Weed said.

The district believes the new change will help students learn to respect property and develop pride in their school, and not leave the school district with footing the bill.

The school district says it will work with families who cannot afford to pay for school lunches.

Kimberly Davis