DCSS School Board at-large candidate Lane Price held a news conference Tuesday to urge a review of DCSS employees’ free and reduced lunch applications.
ALBANY, Ga. -- Dougherty County School Board at-large candidate Lane Price, at a news conference Tuesday, issued a call for immediate review of free or reduced lunch applications by system employees to ensure funds are being used properly.
"My reasoning for this is that the people of Albany and Dougherty County need to be assured that there is no fraud or wrongdoing within our school system," said Price, who is running against incumbent Anita Williams-Brown. "We need to prove that the employees are following the guidelines.
"If during this investigation, it is determined that there were fraudulent cases, then immediate action should be taken."
Price, the medical director for Willson Hospice House, said the FRM (Free or Reduced Meals) program is too important to ignore. According to data the school system submitted to the state, more than 82 percent of the district's 16,343 students qualified for free or reduced-cost meals in the fiscal year that ended Saturday.
"We must be accountable to the families who rely upon this free and reduced lunch program to make sure the available funds are used properly," said Price. "In addition, other programs are tethered to FRM numbers. It is these numbers that help determine dollars for other federally funded programs."
Price added that with the new school year approaching quickly, time is critical.
"We are a little more than 30 days from the start of the next school year," she said. "There has yet to be a revised procedure put into place that will help our school system catch any fraud that may occur intentionally or mistakenly in the future. This revised procedure must be in place before students return to school and before their parents are asked to complete the new computerized application.
"It is imperative that this investigation begin immediately in order for our system to begin a new year with a clean slate. We do not want to jeopardize the children who truly need this program."
As first reported Tuesday on albanyherald.com, the Georgia Department of Education is investigating the Dougherty school district's free and reduced-cost lunch program, citing doubts that the numbers provided by the system were accurate.