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Charter School "Memo" a Lesson for All

Thursday, May 12, 2011  |  Updated 3:31 PM EDT
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Charter School "Memo" a Lesson for All

A "memo" turned out to be just a history lesson prop.

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A $2 fee to bring your own lunch to school? Five cents for each sheet of paper used in a classroom? A $1 fee to use the restroom?

Those are just some of the policy changes presented to students and parents in a memo from Cesar Chavez Public Charter Schools for Public Policy:

Is there outrage? There would be -- if the policies were actually real.

NBC Washington received a copy of the memo on Thursday, and after doing some research we found a good explanation. It's not real, and it's a hoax -- as many thought when they read it.

It's a lesson for students.

The memo, which was printed on school letterhead, was actually part of a history lesson plan. A teacher put it together to show students how Americans were beings treated by the British before the Revolution.

A girl in the class was apparently not paying attention, and took the memo home to show her mother. The mom became very upset and couldn't believe what she was reading, so she called her friend, who passed it along to us.

Principal Daneen Keaton said she received just one complaint about the unofficial "memo."

The letter was posted by the mother's friend to our Facebook page and was sent to us again via an e-mail.  While it's not real, it includes some very creative "guidelines":

  • Teachers may search students' bags or lockers at any time if they believe students have food for which they have not paid a fee or other prohibited items.
  • To cover the cost of recruiting highly qualified teachers to fill open positions at Chavez, families will take turns hosting applicants in their homes. Unfortunately, Chavez is unable to compensate families at this time.
  • To prevent fights and bullying, scholars wishing to meet with other scholars after school must receive signed permission from an administrator and be supervised by a teacher at all times. Scholars caught conversing in the halls without the immediate supervision of an adult after 3:35 will receive Saturday detention.

All of this is good for the Revolution-era British, but not for present-day students in the U.S.

In the end, may this be not just a history lesson, but also a lesson in how fake memos can spread quickly across the Internet.

And, of course, a lesson on the proper use of school letterhead.

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