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Principal, husband charged (updated with video)

The two are charged with falsifying documents to get their child into the income-based free lunch program.

Morningside Elementary School Principal Gloria Baker and her husband leave the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office after being booked and released on bond. The two are charged with falsifying documents to get their child into the free lunch program.

Morningside Elementary School Principal Gloria Baker and her husband leave the Dougherty County Sheriff's Office after being booked and released on bond. The two are charged with falsifying documents to get their child into the free lunch program.

— ALBANY — Morningside Elementary Principal Gloria Baker and her husband John Baker have been booked and released from the Dougherty County Sheriff’s Office downtown on charges of making false statements to obtain free school lunches for their child.

A spokesman for the sheriff’s office said that the Dougherty County School System Police Department took out three warrants on the Bakers Thursday, with each charge carrying a $1,000 bond.

Baker and her husband sped away from the courthouse in a brown Chevy Tahoe without making any comment to the media.

photo

Gloria and Chester Baker

Gloria Baker is currently under a five-day paid suspension by the school system. Her salary as principal is $90,575 a year.

The free and reduced lunch program is designed to help children of low-income parents get a hot meal each day they are at school and is administered through the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

The cost of lunch at schools in the Dougherty County School system is $1.50 per day, DCSS spokesman R.D. Harter said Thursday.

Baker has been with the school system since 1980 and was promoted to assistant principal in 1993. She was promoted to principal at Albany Middle School in 2004 and was assigned to Morningside earlier this year.

According to documents obtained by The Herald from the Dougherty County School System, roughly 81 percent of the 16,000 students who are in the Dougherty County School System are in a free or reduced-fee lunch program.

According to the application for free or reduced lunches, anyone who receives benefits from other USDA programs like SNAP or TANF are eligible for the program, as are most foster children. Children can get free meals if “your household’s gross income is within the free limits on the federal income guidelines.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the income eligibility guidelines adopted for July 1, 2011 state that for a household of three, the income cap is $24,089 per year before taxes.

YouTube video

Principal speeds off after being booked

Morninside Elementary School Principal Gloria Baker and her husband speed away from the Dougherty County Courthouse after being booked for falsifying documents to get their child into the free lunch program.

Comments

Outtahere 2 years, 8 months ago

All I can say is YESSSSSSS!!!!! I hope Albany can start cleaning up some of their mess!!! It starts here hopefully!!!!! She is a liar and does not deserve that position!!! I hope she is fired!!!!!!!!!!

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waltspecht 2 years, 8 months ago

Does anyone else see the need for an outside audit of all the school programs and participants? An audit by the State, not some bought and paid for consultant. Make a bonus available based on what they find as fraudulant, like the New York City Authorities did in the sixties. Boy did they find stuff. Everything from Ghosts on the payroll to a shop project that turned out to be a Principal's boat.

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Cartman 2 years, 8 months ago

Principal involved in theft. Suspend her during pendency of criminal case; terminate her employment upon conviction. What other course is there?

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donniej 2 years, 8 months ago

Dont prosecute her, fire her and let her child qualify for the free lunch program. If she will steal from the system in this way, she will definately steal from it in other ways. Do the right thing and let her go!

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supersquawker 2 years, 8 months ago

Good move on the drive-away.......almost caused a wreck with a UPS truck!!

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billybob 2 years, 8 months ago

Anybody want to bet she sues for wrongful termination if she is fired? Or we can bet an over-under on her severance package! I predict she comes out of this smelling like a rose as she has the most valued qualification our local school system looks for in its leaders.

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supersquawker 2 years, 8 months ago

Herald help us out here. Is this a case of Federal fraud and if so is it a felony?

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Sally_O 2 years, 8 months ago

Maybe they should charge them with wreckless driving as well. Serves them right. Bunch of stealers. She'll probably apologize, but we all know she would not be sorry for what she did, only sorry for getting caught.

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gotanyfacts 2 years, 8 months ago

If I'm not mistaken, the board does not have to wait for a conviction to terminate. In states with strong teacher unions she would probably get moved to a time out room and continue to draw a salary or get a job in the union.

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Citizen_A 2 years, 8 months ago

Just when you think it can't get any worse for the DCSS...and to do something so stupid. The worst crime of all is our schools suffer because the school system has to spend more time with these kinds of problems, and not on improving things for the students. When will people be able to look beyond just the moment, and what really is important?

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firefly 2 years, 8 months ago

I say unpaid suspension pending an investigation.

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basketball2011 2 years, 8 months ago

I feel like the media is going way over board with this about the principle because at the end of the day she is human and can make a bad choice.

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supersquawker 2 years, 8 months ago

Odds are overwhelming that this was an INTENTIONAL choice to defraud which required that she LIE about their income. Period....very simple indeed.

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firefly 2 years, 8 months ago

Just a bad choice??? No, at the end of the day someone is accountable! And being human doesn't excuse criminal activity. Why not let criminals that kill and rape just go "Well, I'm only human!". SERIOUSLY???

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mrnobody 2 years, 8 months ago

Oh yeah. That's a great idea. Let's just call law breaking "bad choices" and not make a big deal about it, especially when they set the standards for our children in a school.

So, let's spin the wheel of responsibility here... I guess her bad choice to commit fraud was the government's.., no the police's..., no, I guess it has to be George W. Bush's fault.

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sadalbanyresident 2 years, 8 months ago

Great day!!! At least if you plan to squawk....know which words to use. Principle is "an accepted or professed rule of action or conduct." Principal is the person. But, the principal SHOULD have at least had good principles. :-)

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volleyball3 2 years, 8 months ago

It is appalling that school leaders over our children display such a poor example and show no integrity or moral strength. Such people do not need to be in charge of our children, Fire them now and put some one with some decent morals in their place. Stealing is still wrong no matter how it is done.

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MRKIA 2 years, 8 months ago

YOU CAN EXPECT A DEEPER INVESTIGATION NOW THAT THIS PRINCIPAL HAS BEEN CHARGED. NO WAY IS SHE THE ONLY PARENT, DCSS EMPLOYEE OR NOT, BEATING THE SYSTEM. THE PAPERWORK IS ALREADY ON FILE SO THERE IS NO WAY TO COVER THEIR TRACKS. DCSS HOST OF PROBLEMS INDICVATES A DIRE NEED TO CLEAN HOUSE FROM TOP TO BOTTOM SO THAT THEY CAN GET BACK TO EDUCATING CHILDREN. SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO HURT BEFORE YOU CAN HEAL.

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Camilla2005 2 years, 8 months ago

I think the city should buy a big sign that states, " SPLOST Revenue at Work", and hang it over the cafeteria.

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supersquawker 2 years, 8 months ago

Statistics show that 28% of Dougherty County's households have incomes below the poverty level of $22,000 per year. That's twice the US national average and it's tragic. BUT this does not match up with the statistic that over 80% of the school children receive free or reduced lunches. Yes there is a lot of cheating going on but I did hear on the news that a full analysis of the "free" lunch program would be conducted in DoCo. Let's hope they do a better job than with the internal cheating investigation.

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Camilla2005 2 years, 8 months ago

Good point, but don't you think that the out of that 80%, many of them do not report their actual income which enables them to qualify for even more government subsidies?

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Camilla2005 2 years, 8 months ago

It is a felony to submit a false document to the government, not a misdemeanor.

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QUIK 2 years, 8 months ago

When I first heard of this incident I was surprised then I realized where I was. Such a waste of law enforcement's time to arrest both parents over a child's lunch program. I understand the harsh comments being made because of her salary but what if she was $10 over the limit in salary? Why not let the school board handle the matter and if they decide to press charges on THE parent that signed the lunch papers and leave it at that (paperwork and photos on both parents!!). I have traveled the world and have never seen people so quick to condemn someone on just about anything. The city leaders and so called 'concerned ctizens' should be more concerned with improving downtown, stopping the monopoly of one hospital and the removal of their 'old time thinking' city leaders. But I forgot this is the bible-belt when it comes to condemnation not common sense.

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gotanyfacts 2 years, 8 months ago

Quik, Surprised at the fraud or who is accused of the fraud? Fraud is rampant in government programs, partly because it’s "somebody else's money", so it's "no big deal". That a principal is charged should be shocking, even in Albany! Not likely that the cut off is within $10 of $90,000. The school board is not the victim in this case and has no say in whether or not to prosecute. Certainly, we all need to be “condemning” the act rather than the person. But holding the person accountable, once the facts are in, is in the best interests of the community. I’m not sure I follow your “Bible-belt” and condemnation vs. common sense comment. I find that most “Bible-toters” (serious ones) have a great deal of common sense, and make use of it.

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