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Todd Carmichael wanted to cover the cost of lunch bills of students in one Pennsylvania school district whose parents were behind on lunch bills. Buzz60

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Following widespread criticism – and multiple rejected offers for charitable donations – a Pennsylvania school district apologized Wednesday for threatening parents to send their children to foster care over unpaid lunch debts.

The board of directors at Wyoming Valley West School District in Kingston "sincerely apologizes for the tone of the letter that was sent regarding lunch debt," according to a statement Wednesday, NBC News reported.

Representatives at the school district did not immediately respond to a request for comment by USA TODAY.

The board will also accept a $22,000 donation from Todd Carmichael, CEO and co-founder of La Colombe Coffee, NBC News reported. His charitable effort was initially turned down by the district.

“I’m just going to hold on and I’m going to continue to be optimistic and see if we can’t do something,” Carmichael said on Tuesday.

'End of the line': CEO tries to play hero, pay for students' late lunch bills: School board says no

Pennsylvania state Rep. Aaron Kaufer, who represents the area where the school district is located, told NPR that he urged board members to accept donations and was unsure why the donations were rejected in the first place.

The letters warned parents that they “can be sent to dependency court for neglecting your child’s right to food,” and that the children could be removed and placed in foster care.

Child welfare authorities in Luzerne County rejected these claims.

School district officials also proposed other options, such as filing a court complaint or repossessing properties.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Follow Joshua Bote on Twitter: @joshua_bote

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Read or Share this story: https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2019/07/25/pennsylvania-school-district-accepts-la-colombe-gift-sorry-lunch-debt-threat/1825542001/