Parents in South Carolina say children singled out due to weight

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(CNN) -- A group of parents in South Carolina say a middle school singled out their children because of their size. The school system sent a letter to some students, asking them to attend a meeting about their weight.

School leaders say they were just trying to help, but some parents say the way they did it was wrong.

One by one, each student was called into the cafeteria over the intercom. All of their peers knew who would need to attend the meeting -- and they quickly found out what it was about.

"They weren't pulled individually, they were pulled in as a group, so everyone there knew who else was there, and by the time they were done and got to the next school period, it was labeled the fat meeting," parent Cheasta Scheller said.

It started as part of a national effort to prevent childhood obesity. The school conducted a health and body mass index screening on all of its students -- and identified 40 students who are at risk of becoming obese.

The school offered meetings with nutritionists to discuss better eating habits with the students.

Scheller says she understands what the school was trying to do, but she, along with other parents, say this is a violation of HIPPA laws.

"If you're going to offer a nutrition class, like I said before, you should off a nutrition class for everyone. Underweight people are just as unhealthy," Scheller said.

Melissa Bairfoot's son has autism. He has been bullied all of his life because of it. Bairfoot says the letter from the school just added fuel to the fire. Bairfoot admits her son is overweight, but she says, according to his pediatrician, he is very healthy.

"He has no heart problems, his cholesterol is fine, he's been checked for diabetes and he doesn't have that. He doesn't have any of those things," Bairfoot said.

Scheller and Angela Bell's children are athletes, and they were also in the meeting.

Bell says according to her daughter's doctor, she only has 10% body fat.

"The pediatrician says that my child is extremely healthy," Bell said.

Bell says she has had a hart time getting her daughter to eat ever since the letters went out -- and Scheller has also noticed a change in her son.

"I noticed at night that he is leaving to start running. He is running around our neighborhood every evening. He's also riding a bike. He has cut his portions down. He's even turned down food," Scheller said.

The superintendent of the Hampton County School District agrees with the parents. He said he believes the school handled this incorrectly.

The principal of North District Middle School issued a letter of apology, saying: "I understand that some children were teased about being overweight, and for this, I am deeply sorry."

At least one parent has reportedly contacted a lawyer, and is considering legal action against the school district.