Letter used for lesson causes confusion among Gwinnett Co. parents

by: Rachel Stockman Updated:

In the letter, fees included 10 cents for homework assignments, 10 cents for tardiness, a pencil sharpener fee, a hall pass fee and a desk use fee.
GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. —

Some Gwinnett County parents say a fictional letter sent home to parents about paying fees for homework assignments went way too far.

The letter sent home with students in an eighth-grade social studies class at Shiloh Middle School was titled "New classroom fees."

In the letter, fees included 10 cents for homework assignments, 10 cents for tardiness, a pencil sharpener fee, a hall pass fee and a desk use fee.

Some parents said they didn't know the letter, which required parental signatures, was just a learning exercise and was not real until they called the school in confusion.

"For you to send it home and ask for us to sign, I don't understand why that was even necessary," said parent Dana Sheffield. "And then the government shutdown and everyone is already in an uproar, and then you get this."

The district said the teacher emailed parents about the assignment, clarifying that they weren't actually required to pay the fees. However, some parents said they never got the email.

"I am still outraged," Sheffield said.

Principal Dr. Eli Welch followed up with a letter sent home to parents Wednesday afternoon, which said, in part;

"Currently, students are learning about taxation without representation and how that affected Georgia as a colony.

"Mr. Holmes provided his students with a simulation assignment in which students were informed of fictional classroom fees -- these were not real, but make believe. This simulation was intended to help students to better understand what colonists experienced when everyday items and services were taxed at high rates. (This references our 8th grade social studies AKS standard 34A which asks students to analyze the role of Georgia in the American Revolution.)

"In an effort to avoid confusion about the assignment, Mr. Holmes informed parents of it by email yesterday. Unfortunately, not every parent received or opened the email about the assignment. I apologize for any confusion this may have caused."


"It shouldn't even have gotten this far. If this is something they are trying to teach them about the American Revolution it should have stayed within the classroom," Sheffield said.