An 11-year-old English boy was left in tears after lunchroom staffers told him they would not feed him until his parents paid the £1.75, or $2.75, balance on their account.
The boy’s father, Gary Lynn, is accusing the school of “physical and emotional neglect” of his son, Jacob.
The Paignton school told BBC News that the staff was just “abiding by the rules.”
Lynn said the lunch rule at Hayes Primary School is a tactic to make any parent feel like a criminal for defaulting on a single day’s payment for lunch.
"I hold my hand up. I usually put £10 on at a time. That's my fault. But for them to take that course of action with my son seems incredible," Lynn told the BBC.
"When he was expecting to get served he was told he wouldn't be allowed a meal. He burst into tears,” Lynn explained. "He went to sit down and one of the mealtime assistants brought over an apple because she felt sorry for him.”
"The kitchen were abiding by school rules,” Sean Hindle, business manager at the academy-status school, told the BBC in an internal response.
"They normally phone parents to let them know that their account doesn't have any money, and that their child won't get a lunch that day unless the account is credited,” Hindle said.
Kitchen manager Veronic Prior at St. Mary’s School in Plympton, Devon, said: "I would never let any of the children go out of that hall without food. I think it's pretty disgusting. Whoever did it should be sacked."
Katherine Tompkins said her school in Plymouth wouldn’t enforce such a rule. Tompkins, head teacher a Tor Bridge Primary School said: "We don't use the same payment system. We wouldn't have refused the child a meal.”
"We would have made all efforts to ensure they had something to eat,” she added.
A statement from Jacob’s school said that the rule was put in place because there were a number of “late payments and bad debts.”
While the school said it regretted any distress caused by the actions of the kitchen staff, they did not accept any blame for the boy missing a meal.
"Mr. and Mrs. Lynn were notified on three occasions prior to the mealtime of interest that their debt was due and that their son would not receive a meal if the debt remained unpaid,” the statement said.
Furthermore the school said it was "disappointed that it has been portrayed by this parent to have been fully responsible for withholding a meal from him."
"I was completely outraged. I hadn't had any teacher come to tell me there was an issue. I found it horrific," Lynn said.