Parents sue Birmingham schools over fees that were mistakenly charged

BIRMINGHAM, Mich. (WXYZ) - The Birmingham Public Schools are where Melissa Vedder kept her children to give them the best education possible, even if she couldn't afford to.

"If you're told you have to have this for class you go out and buy it regardless of whether you have the money or not," said Vedder.

She spent $50 a year on gym uniforms, locker locks, and planners for her son when he attended Derby Middle School. He's now at Birmingham Seaholm still racking up locker fees. She worries about paying even more when her other child starts at Derby. 

"In the past I've had to take, say, grocery money and pay for supplies. So therefore, as the month goes on, there's less food in the house for the kids from buying all the stuff to start school in September," said Vedder.

She is now part of a lawsuit against the public school district to get her money back. Her attorney estimates the district illegally charged some hundreds of thousands of dollars in the school supply fees over the years.

When 7 Action News spoke with the Birmingham Public School District by phone they admitted the mistake.  They sent out a letter to parents earlier in the year, but last week is the first time they posted it on their website.

To find the letter, go to their school website and click on the tab at the top called ‘Parents/Students.'  Then scroll down to ‘Student Fees Form'.  That is where you will find the form to fill out and take to your child's school for a refund. 

The school will review the form and the claim to make sure your child was wrongfully charged. 

The district tells us they will refund the money if your child was wrongfully charged. That is money that parents like Melissa Vedder count on getting back and not having to pay in the future.

"It's just a huge pain. And to not have to go through that would be a huge relief," said Vedder.

The lawsuit that was originally filed at the end of last year against the district is still pending. Attorney Mark Wasvary said that they want the district to refund every dollar that they have ever wrongfully charged throughout the years.

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