A family files a lawsuit against the Birmingham Public Schools for extra fees for school supplies

BIRMINGHAM, MIch. (WXYZ) - A class action lawsuit filed against the Birmingham Public Schools claims the district has been charging illegal fees for school supplies for years.

When it came time to for their son to start the year in the district one couple got a surprise at the extra fees that they had to fork over.

"They went to registration and purchased the locks, the planners, the uniform, because that's what they were told to do," said their attorney Mark Wasvary. Wasvary represents John and Laurie Kelly of Troy. The couple's sixth grader attends Derby Middle School where they were charged $40 dollars for a lock, planner and gym uniform. 

Wasvary said the fees are illegal and parents at Berkshire Middle School have also been charged.

"There's no excuse for the school to violate the law when they've gotten a notice from the state board of education over the years," said Wasvary.

The latest memorandum to go out in 2011 from the Department of Education states public school districts in Michigan must provide supplies free of charge.

"There's about 700 kids in each of the middle schools and this practice has been going on for years," said Wasvary. Wasvary said his clients can afford the extra fee, that cost is not the issue. 

"It's principle for them," he said. 

Wasvary said there are other families though in the district who he believes this is a hardship for them. 

"However, in Birmingham Schools there are some children who take part in the free and reduced lunch program so forty or fifty dollars at registration is probably a big deal," he said.

The school did send out a letter admitting they made improper charges this year and will fix the problem.  Wasvary believes the charges have been happening for years and the lawsuit would encompass that entire time, which could be hundreds of thousands of dollars. 

A spokesperson from the school district tells 7 Action News that they cannot comment on the pending lawsuit.

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