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State officials investigating DCSS lunch program

State education officials doubt accuracy of district's numbers

ALBANY, Ga. — The Georgia Department of Education is investigating the Dougherty County School System's Free and Reduced Lunch program, citing doubts that the numbers provided by the system are accurate.

At stake are possibly millions in federal Title I and IDEA (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act) funding which is based on the number of children in a district who qualify for free or reduced lunches. According to data submitted to the state, more than 82 percent of the district's 16,343 students qualified for free or reduced-cost meals.

The investigation was first reported Tuesday on albanyherald.com.

"We had a complaint in regard to FRM (free and reduced meal) applications from Dougherty County." Title I Programs Director Margo DeLaune said Tuesday. "And based on that complaint and what we've been reading in the paper, we weren't 100 percent positive that the count we received from the district for FY 2012 was entirely accurate." Fiscal Year 2012 ended Saturday.

The state education department sent a five-member investigative team, including DeLaune, to Albany on May 24 for a meeting with Dougherty School Superintendent Joshua Murfree, Title I Director Betty Graper and Child Nutrition Services Director Vanessa Hayes.

After arriving at the school administration building, however, DeLaune and the complaint investigation team were denied access to system employee lunch applications by Murfree and Hayes, according to state officials.

The denial prompted this response from the GADOE on June 4: "Dougherty County's Superintendent and Nutrition Director denied the Complaint Investigation team access to any Free or Reduced Priced Meal data or applications in order for the GADOE Complaint Investigation Team to determine if FRM counts were accurate in determining Dougherty County's Title I, Part A and Special Education IDEA allocations for FY2011 and FY12.

"In addition, the interview with Dougherty's Title I Cooordinator determined that Dougherty County's Title I, Part A allocations for FY11 and FY12 have not been reviewed to determine if ... the allocations will need to be adjusted to an accurate figure due to inaccurate FRM counts."

Murfree said Tuesday that the investigative team was not denied any access.

"During the one-day visit, the invesigative team requested information that is not collected by the school system," Murfree said. "I made it clear to the team that the system will provide whatever information was needed and assigned system child nutrition, business and finance and federal programs leaders the task of gathering any documentation requested by the team."

Murfree said he cleared up the matter in a phone call to DuLaune on Tuesday.

"I spoke with Ms. DuLaune today about the letter of June 4, which contained a paragraph about the superintendent and child nutrition director denying access to FRM data or applications," Murfree said. "Ms. Dulaune acknowledged that access wasn't denied, but that information, along with requested information concerning the children of school employees, would have to be collected as we have no database of that information.

"Ms. DuLaune said the paragraph was the way she had to state the concern because I am the superintendent."

The state education department sent a letter on Friday to Murfree and School Board Chairman James Bush, reminding the school district of U.S. Department of Agriculture privacy rules, which state in part: "Verification for cause must not be used to automatically verify the households of all school district employees who qualify for FRM. However, from among the list of children approved for free or reduced price meals, an LEA (local education agency) could identify children of school district employees and use LEA salary information available to them to identify questionable applications and then conduct verifications for cause on those questionable applications."

The letter warned Murfree and Bush that "failure to resolve this impasse could result in the GaDOE placing a hold on (Title I and IDEA) funds until this important issue is resolved."

In FY 2012 the DCSS received approximately $8.3 million in Title I funds and $3.2 million in Special Education IDEA funds.

Murfree said the district will respond to the state's letter soon.

Comments

AnotherMom 2 years, 3 months ago

"Murfree & Sons" never cease to amaze me!

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Okay, get over it. Privacy still count in America!

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

Get over it? Why should we. Taxpayers are entitled to see where our money is being spent. When that 8 million is held up there are going to be some might hungry folks. Then bubba we wila laugh the way to the polls.

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VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

Looks like BVR is upset. Where's your smile?

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

"Privacy still count in America!" What does that mean exactly? Did you mean still "counts"? And is there a right to privacy if it means you are lying and cheating? Please explain.

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dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

Privacy is an issue being hid behind to protect the guilty. Contrary to what we have been told in the past, there is a basis for making validations after the forms are submitted. In effect, the lunch program is not feeding hungry children who cannot afford to buy a lunch, it is also feeding the children of those who are able to pay but would commit fraud to get something "free". It is a national problem.

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Moe 2 years, 3 months ago

Are you on drugs? "Privacy?" From one governmental body to another? Privacy to commit fraud? Get a grip.

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SMHgain 2 years, 3 months ago

DCSS seems to think that they can set their own rules. That may be the case locally, but I am betting it will be a different story with regard to the state. By refusing to allow this group access to the applications it appears that there is something to hide.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, Privacy. Get you some business.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

Privacy only counts if you are honest. You hide things when you are dishonest. Hope you do not have to make lunches because we know you are one of the free loaders.

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Do you have any concept of grammar and of tense?

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

I see, you must have received a stellar education here in DOCO?

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ontario1966 2 years, 3 months ago

Get them DOE, thank you for taking charge! Looks like DCSS is finally gonna get what's coming to them, we are gonna get justice soon!!

1

LuLu 2 years, 3 months ago

"And based on that complaint and and what we've been reading in the paper we weren't 100 percent positive that the count we received from the district for FY 2012 were entirely accurate."

Who says we can't make a difference?? Yeah!

2

Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

I say you cant, you can only make things worse. You have to go to court to make a difference.

Blowing smoke is just blowing smoke.

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VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

Lord knows you been blowing smoke from that weed you smoke everyday.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

You would have thought Murfree would have checked with the DCSS Lawyer before taking a stand like that. Plus you would have thought they would have denied access before the DOE showed up at their door step. They had to know they were comming. Then maybe this is why the Nutritional Director was reinstated, so she would keep her thoughts to herself. These are Federal Funds, so we all have a dog in this fight. If the numbers prove fraudulant, they can with hold future contributions till an appropriate amount of reparation is paid. This mess seems to keep getting deeper and deeper. The ones who will suffer are the Taxpayers, because they are the ones that will have to make up the differance. Cutliff Grove all over again, but involving a lot more money. Wonder what will happen when DCSS files for Bankrupcy?

3

Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Keep wondering, because, it ant going to happen.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

Yes, ask Arlington about the with holding of funds. Cut off like the head of a snake. And they had to pay back all that was fraud.

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agirl_25 2 years, 3 months ago

chinaberry.......I said I was not going to say anything about the DCSS anymore since I no longer live in the area (hallelujah) but noticed you said something about Arlington. Did you see the mess that is going on in the local Government there? Apparently there is a gang of relatives who are running the local government as if it were their private domain. Also, using county money as if it were their cash box. There is bad blood between them and Turner Bostwick too, according to the paper. Seems they are mad at him for turning them in for fiscal irresponsibility. Lordy, lordy when will these so called ADULTS grow up and do something for the good of the people, stop stealing and make the town a better place for the children who are the future!!!!!! You said they had to pay it back......well did they? I heard they are still fighting over who is responsible for paying it back. I wish the feds would come in and make the individual people pay it back....take it directly from their welfare checks. I was also told by someone there was a lot of fiscal irresponsiblility (nice way to say stealing) in the small town of Damascus. Anyone know?

2

BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

When did Murfree ever check the legality of any issue he decided on? Remember the Jail Bail?

1

dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

There will never be a bankruptcy as long as there is one taxpayer left standing to gouge in the name of "education". I wish the feds were as concerned as those who provide the funds.

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jglass 2 years, 3 months ago

OMGOODNESS..........will it ever end. DOE come on in and investigate. I cannot believe they were refused access............................bring another possee down and uncover all of the fraud, stealing, and lying!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I just hate to see what all they are really going to uncover. waltspecht, I think you are right about the reinstatement!!!

1

VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

Just people who like to use common sense and do things the right way. Unlike those crooked Democrats.

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TheBoss 2 years, 3 months ago

"The Herald is awaiting comment from Murfree", LOL. Murfree has got to clear his comments with all the black preachers that run the school board before he can talk to the Herald.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Black, White, or Green Preachers are ok, just keep paying taxes.

Poor, Right -Wingers, crying dry tears. Keep hope alive!!

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Give me a break. The politicians and the "preachers" running this town are inept and they all have their own agendas. I trust fewer and fewer people here. Stupidity and or crookedness prevails. Notice that I do not single out one party. They have ALL failed this town miserably.

1

willie 2 years, 3 months ago

None of the preachers pay taxes, therefore they should not have a word in the mix. Personally I think they should send their kids to a private school on the backs and checkbook of those that attend the preachers church.

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stc1993 2 years, 3 months ago

What's going to happen when all the taxpayers leave this town?

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ObjectiveEyes 2 years, 3 months ago

Wow, the hits just keep coming for DCSS, doesn't it? Unbelievable (well, maybe a little)!

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

DCSS is improving, we are cleaning up Watley mess.

What?

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VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

And creating a bigger Murfree mess. Need to fire the clown. In fact, the whole board needs replacing. It's always easy to blame the other person. Typical Democrat!

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Say what? Yes it did start under Whatley and continues to get worse every day. How can #34 clean up what he cannot even comprehend?

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willie 2 years, 3 months ago

Whatley should have been subpoenaed years ago. Seems like she was the one that got over like a fat rat in a cheese factory. As for Murfree, well this man is a deterent to the educational system.

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jglass 2 years, 3 months ago

How can ALL of this mess be blamed on Whatley? Explain please.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

It is easy to explain. Just replace "Blame Bush" with "Blame Whatley". BVR and Coach and friends all play by three simple rules.

  1. Ignore Facts that hurt your case. If that does not work
  2. Blame Bush. Or in BVR’s case blame Whatley If that does not work
  3. Call us Racist then run away. Or in this case make claims YOU know there is a HIDDEN Agenda against people of color whose ONLY crime is Lying, Cheating and Stealing. Which you fully support and know they will be found NOT guilty because it was only a crime against the Government so it doesn’t really affect you.
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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

Once again Abytaxpayer........your summation is devastating. Case closed.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

It was not a Whatley mess, it was Culbreth. He is the one who overspent or lost $5 million, Whatley keeps getting blamed for all this and nothing like this ever went on under her watch. Just like Obama, it's Bush's fault. Yeah!

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bigbob 2 years, 3 months ago

Because she is white so these fools around here will blame her for 10 years just like it's still Bushs fault. Just be patiant these people running DCSS aren't smart enough to keep this ruse going. Go getem DOE.

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BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Bush has zero to do with this.

0

BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Not all can, but yes Sally knew and did nothing. It did start with her.

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Support 2 years, 3 months ago

Let me guess which Board member or lawyer informed the press? Ealum and Coleman.

1

Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Just curious, why is that important?

1

coachjohnson42 2 years, 3 months ago

and you issued the complaint right?

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jglass 2 years, 3 months ago

So, is Murfree saying that investigative team is lying? I wish Murfree, and all the employees on Pine would take a lie detector test. Things just are not adding up!!!!!

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

Trying adding $8.3 million in Title I funds and $3.2 million in IDEA funds. $11.5 Million reasons at stake. No wonder they are holding tight to the covers, to try and keep the light from shining on DCSS.

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jglass 2 years, 3 months ago

So, are there not standard reports kept on/for the free or reduced lunch program? I sounds like an application is completed and then you get the freebie. What on God's green earth is the DCSS doing with ALL of that money and they are still coming up short??

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

I think the point Murfree was trying to make is that the applications are not broken down into a system employee subset. That database of information does not exist ... yet.

The GaDOE wants those applications because they can check names and salaries on the forms for "irregularities."

2

whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

They might just find a few, hundreds that is........

2

chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah and subs still make minimum wage.

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chinaberry25 2 years, 3 months ago

What they really need to do, is do like the federal government did Randolph Co. Go after the school board members assets. Put a lien on their properties until all this mess is worked out. Things WILL change then.

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agirl_25 2 years, 3 months ago

OMG chinaberry.....I was not aware of that........they put a lien on personal property?? How wonderful...somebody actually had the nerve to do that. PS..insert word of choice where nerve is...

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dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

Sounds good but not the case, China. It was liens placed by the state, not the feds. And it was liens against the Board of County Commissioners, not the Board of Education. The liens were to secure employee payroll taxes not paid to the state by the BOC who handles financial matters on behalf of the BOE. There were no liens against individual members of either board, which would not be a legal claim.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

The C in DCSS must stand for Circus because every time the little car drives into the middle of the Big Tent, 45 clowns climb out and the last one has on a nice little bow tie and everybody laughs.

All this just continues to prove that NOBODY REALLY WANTS THE TRUTH TO BE KNOWN ABOUT THIS AND A MILLION OTHER GIVEAWAYS that the Democrat party has added over the years to keep folk on their Plantation and which have predictably provided MILLIONS in opportunity for FRAUD and ABUSE to the undeserving. The worst thing is, them folk are happy as a pig in slop to be on the Democrat plantation.

5

Albanite 2 years, 3 months ago

Murfree. Enough is Enough! Cooperate with the investigators and stop hiding documents.

2

VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

It's easy to see why the board picked #34. Murfree and the school board needs to be removed.

2

garosebud 2 years, 3 months ago

Nothing DCSS does surprises me anymore....please someone come in and fire them all and get some good, honest people in our school system. I am ashamed of what we have now. Get real Murfree or More-Free - isn't that what it should be? ha! yes....

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

It's incredulous that the school system's data base of FRM applications does not include a search field for employment of parent applicants. If it is excluded it is intentional and I don't believe for one second it is not easily available. Developing a subset of data is no greater than identifying a field and trust me they are there.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

I know it's there. This is the info they will have to deliver to GaDOE. Sometime you have to prod the DCSS into action.

2

Progressive 2 years, 3 months ago

Terry, thanks for doing what you do. This community appreciates you reporting the FACTS!

3

coachjohnson42 2 years, 3 months ago

So, Mr. Lewis, is this another tactic to try and remove administrative officials, teachers, or board members??? ....Are you guys constantly sending complaints up to the state level to get them to come down here and investigate everything????Do you think that is gonna work?

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Progressive 2 years, 3 months ago

The better question would be why would YOU, coach j, not want potential fraud to be investigated? Don't you want to have a school system that is operating with honesty, integrity, and has accountability to the tax payers? In the case of this school system admin, it seems everything needs to be investigated. The School Board and Murfree have shown they can not be trusted!

1

VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

Because one of his soul brothers is being investigated. You know how Da Corch rolls. As long as a black is in charge he is aok with whatever Murfree does. #34 could be providing drugs to the children and coach would praise him as being the best superintendent the DCSS has ever had.

1

Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

What's I find funny is people who accuse me of attempting to bring down the DCSS when the wounds the system is suffering are entirely self-inflicted. I could be covering girls soccer in Adel and you'd still have the same complaints.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Keep up the good work and let them bitch, Terry!

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

CJ at what point will you realize the ship is sinking? DCSS has one of the lowest ratings in a state that has one of the lowest ratings in the Nation. Perhaps if you liberals were more interested in education rather than indoctrination to create more liberal followers that rating wouldn't be so poor. As pointed out Albany is a brown spot (blue) in a Red State and Nathan Deal has nothing to gain or lose in Dougherty County. So he may do as you wish and say leave them alone because the majority DoCo elected the Fab 4 and they hired the 34th least qualified for superintendent. If no one in the majority of the community wants and sees the need for help then why should he step in….. Just let them have what they desire and then they can’t blame Deal, Bush, or Whatley when they continue to fall further and further behind.

So go ahead and play your "racist", "hater", and "stupid" cards just remember we are NOT the ones driving the boat when you realize that warm fuzzy feeling you have is because you are waist deep in water.

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MRKIA 2 years, 3 months ago

THAT'S TRUE BECAUSE THE INVESTIGATION WILL CONTINUE ANYWAY.

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Abytaxpayer 2 years, 3 months ago

GREAT liberal reply ....Ignore the Facts you don't like....Run away CJ run and hide....hide from the TRUTH

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dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

The information to get the issue resolved with DCSS employees is readily available if anyone were interested in resolving the issue. But there are other children getting such lunches with parents working at P&G, Miller et al which we seem to be willing to forget--when the word gets around that no one, and I do mean no one, validates the applications, there are plenty of others riding the "free money train". We seem to gravitate to the low hanging fruit on the tree of chiselers.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Every day we inch closer to a mandatory takeover of the system by the state. And yet there will still be some who just don't understand why it happened.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

Before this one's over we'll have a new highway between Atlanta and Albany....the one we've all be asking for for so long.......probably will name it Interstate 34.....it's needed to bring some people down here with some integrity, some sanity, some brain-power, somebody that understands probability and statistics, some honesty, and some abilty so speak clearly and coherently in the English language.......and the end result will not be pretty for the bottom feeders currently in place. But there will be a bright tomorrow for the chillrunnnnss of Albany G.A. and don't forget....Help Is On The Way!!!!!

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Help from Atlanta? Now that gives me the warm fuzzies ... not.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

Well Mr. Terry..let's see........Help could come from Washington D.C. (Eric Holder's DOJ).......it could come from San Francisco, CA.........it could come from East Albany.........it could come from the ACLU, the NEA, or the DNC....

I'd rather it come from Nathan Deal's office in Atlanta, GA!

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Pffft. Albany is a blue dot in a red state. Nathan Deal has nothing to gain or lose in Dougherty County.

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

"Ms. DuLaune said the paragraph was the way she had to state the concern because I am the superintendent."

Help is on the way to determine what that mean???

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

Point is, Murfree did not provide the information requested by the state investigators and it is not because the data is not there and is not accessible. Obviously control and non-disclosure are important by the incestuous nest of self-serving rogues.

1

VSU 2 years, 3 months ago

Murfree was talkimng out one side of his mouth on the news saying he would clear up the issues and provide the data but that it had to be put together.No doubt they will come up with some bogus data.

2

BettyBowTie 2 years, 3 months ago

Dump the whole board and start fresh LOL, not that anyone worth having now wants into this mess. Albany is toast. Everything here stinks to high Heaven.

1

MRKIA 2 years, 3 months ago

THEY MIGHT WANT TO TAKE A LOOK AT THE EDUCATIONAL CREDENTIALS OF DCSS EMPLOYEES, PARTICULARLY THE ADMINISTRATORS AND SOME SALARY INDISCREPANCIES. TAKE A REAL CLOSE LOOK.

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dingleberry 2 years, 3 months ago

Validation of academic credentials should be routinely done but we all know it isn't. With the growth of online degrees, we are paying good money for poor credentials, if they exist at all. If we weren't performing background checks, an issue the surface a year or so ago, it is not a stretch of the imagination that we don't properly validate credentials. The importance placed on credentials was demonstrated when Murfree was hired--not got, no problem.

0

reb_arty1863 2 years, 3 months ago

Why does the Farrakhan "wannabee" not have that data base after all the negatives of his administration? Even my poor soft ware skills could create that spread sheet. For what reason does the Department of Ag hinder investigation of fraud?

0

ustaknow 2 years, 3 months ago

call the gang task force and let them know the DCSS is still active

2

Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

IIRC, we spend about $10k/pupil in the DCSS. That is Ten thousand dollars every year for every child from Kindergarten through Senior Year of High School. For what result? The DCSS is proof that throwing money at education; does not improve results. It only invites inefficiency and theft.

1

Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

If you divide the DCSS FY 2013 budget ($116 million) by the number of students in the system (16,000) we get an average expenditure of $7,250 per student per year.

We could send every student in the system to Sherwood and save money :)

Think about that.

2

Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

I was lazy and used another source instead of doing the math myself. LINK HERE I don't vouch for their methods. But you're right, it's still a ton of money. I think we agree on the point that we don't mind spending money on our kids and our community's future. It is frustrating however to see hard earned money wasted; stolen; and so casually handled.

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URWrongAgain 2 years, 3 months ago

Dougherty County is the third highest ranking county in the state for the number of children under 18 living in poverty (2010 Kids Count Data based on U.S. Census). Over the last five - six years, the number of children on free and reduced meals (FRM) has risen by approximately one (1) - two (2) percent each year from around 77% to where it is today at nearly 83% (data reported to GDOE). It should also be noted that there was a somewhat significant jump of approximately 8% between 2005 and 2006 and a nearly 10% reduction between 2002 and 2003. In fact although only two counties had a higher rate of children living in poverty, at least 19 other counties had a higher percentage of children receiving free and reduced meals. With the current economic downturn, recent demographic changes (White enrollment decreased about 4% over the same period), and historical consistent increases in FRM percentages, what is the impetus behind GADOE suspicion of incorrectly reported FRM data? What does it all mean? I’m not sure; I’m just reporting what I find to be interesting numbers. More food for thought.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

URWrongAgain asks " what is the impetus behind GADOE suspicion of incorrectly reported FRM data?" #1. There has been a report of suspected violations reported to them; #2, a principal has been arrested and indicted for FRM fraud (and returned to her position); 3, a school board member has been arrested and indicted for FRM fraud, #4, The DCSS Supt. has ordered the school police to clear violation enforcement with him. From which planet are you transmitting?

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URWrongAgain 2 years, 3 months ago

I transmit from a planet that looks at all the evidence. A planet that might suggest that based on the numbers, if there is indeed a gross discrepancy, then it is probably systematic. But everyone seems to be laying blame on the current administration as if the problem just started. I tend to agree with the person who says the problem (if one exists) goes back further than this year. I pointed out a couple of instances where the numbers seem to indicate something suspect, and there were complaints about the lunch room program that go back farther than this administration. But only now are voices being raised about abuse and investigations. Also be mindful of these numbers: nearly 30% of DCCS employees make at or below the Federal Poverty level for a family of two, so you can probably count them out (if they even have children or children who eat lunch). Nearly half make at or below the poverty level for a family of four. So don't preclude that an investigation will uncover some grand conspiracy. It will probably uncover this: Abusers of the system who are employees of the DCSS and a system that over the years (not just this one) has been derelict in its policies and procedures for reviewing and reporting these things. One thing I do know for sure and that is the planet you transmit from.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

DCSS employees are not being singled out. The salaries of all DCSS employees are public record and can be easily verified in the even "irregularities" are found on an application.

BTW, a family of four with an income of $39,000 is qualified for reduced priced meals.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

So in many cases with incomes well beyond, we are feeding the greedy not the needy!

1

URWrongAgain 2 years, 3 months ago

However, your readers seem to respond to some grand conspiracy by this administration. If numbers being reported to GADOE are consistent with prior years then this should have been investigated a long time ago. Now it seems that this "audit" is being prompted by two "employees" who are accused of misrepresenting facts and a Superintendent who ordered police to report to him before making an arrest. That alone should not be the impetus for an "audit". The police issue has nothing to do with FRM. And no, I’m not pointing blame at former administrators (like others). What I’m pointing to is the fact that even if there is a discrepancy, then it is not a deliberate effort to defraud the USDA. It is most likely a system that does not have (and has not had) the infrastructure in place to correctly report the numbers.

PS. Thanks for the info regarding income level qualifications. That would make the numbers reported by DCSS even more realistic. It would seem to me if indeed the "greedy" are benefiting at the expense of the "needy" then the entire FRM system needs fixing.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

I don't think it is a conspiracy. I think it is a lack of oversight, if there is any oversight at all.

IMO, I think that all applications should be first looked at closely by the principals at the individual schools before being passed onto CNS for approval.

This first layer of verification, however, currently does not exist.

1

coachjohnson42 2 years, 3 months ago

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and has feathers....ITS A DUCK!!!Everybody knows whats really going on.......

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

URWrong, you are crawfishing on the argument. I responded to your unbelieveable query " what is the impetus behind GADOE suspicion of incorrectly reported FRM data?" The facts are abundant and clear and justify an investigation. If it goes back further than this year and is in fact a "systemic" problem so be it. Let the chips fall where they may. Two wrongs don't make a right. Two major critical issues are at hand. Will the students and families lose greatly needed funds and programs as a result of malfeasance, is the first. Then how do we pick up the pieces from the total disintegration of organization and leadership at DCSS to provide the students, families and taxpayer with a reliable, cost-effective product? You can argue all day long about culpability of yesteryears' leaders but that is superflous. UR not on the right planet.

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URWrongAgain 2 years, 3 months ago

Fryar Tuck, I never said they system was correct. Please read my comments....carefully. Based on demographics of Dougherty County, it can be assumed that the numbers they report are going to be high. If those numbers are incorrect, then don't point to some grand conspiracy by this administration. Point to the fact that there should be some system of checks and balances (if allowed by USDA rules) to report correct numbers.
PS I don't look at yesteryear's leaders. I no more believe there was a grand conspiracy behind the recent cheating scandal that occurred under the previous administration than I believe something is afoot here. If that is indeed false, then I stand corrected. But two employees who potentially abused the system and a Superintendent who requested that Police report to him before they make an arrest, should not be the basis for this audit...and that's basically what it is. It is my hope that a noticeable "blip" in the numbers would be the reason. If not, I could go to any school system and find two employees who abused the system. Then every system should be looked at carefully.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

URWrong, Benjamin Disraeli once said there are three kinds of lies, lies, damned lies and statistics. Do you know what your comment means "So don't preclude that an investigation will uncover some grand conspiracy?" You write on the one hand "PS I don't look at yesteryear's leaders." and then "there were complaints about the lunch room program that go back farther than this administration. But only now are voices being raised about abuse and investigations." You skate over the circumstances by saying you could go to any school system and find 2 employees cheating, these are not employees, one is a school board member and the other is a principal who has been returned to her position. You quote statistics like you have more than a passing familiarity with the DCSS. But your discussion has only distant relevance to the critical circumstances of the DCSS. The school system is leaderless, the school board is dysfunctional and the superintendent doesn't have the slightest idea what he is doing. The board is controlled by an incestuous nest of self-serving rogues. The poor children and families have no advocate for their best interests. There is no obfuscating that reality.

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URWrongAgain 2 years, 3 months ago

Nope, my comment doesn't mean that. That's just your interpretation. I just happen to look at some numbers out of curiosity to see if there were any significant changes in the numbers reported from one fiscal year to the next. You probably thought I was looking to see if I could pinpoint something on prior administrations. URWRONGAGAIN! When the numbers showed nothing out of the ordinary, then I went back further. I then posted what I posted. Your interpretation is that I was attempting to point to wrongdoing by a prior administration. On the contrary, I was pointing out that except for the two years highlighted, the numbers reported have not statistically changed. Your contention is that we have inherently poor leadership. Even though I don’t say that about prior DCSS leaders (I actually respect Dr. Whatley and was proud of my child’s education experience during her tenure), you won’t even allow the supposition or comparison. And you're right, that's not the point. Neither should a Superintendent's request to review potential arrests by the school system police.

You realize the recent cheating scandal investigation was prompted based on "statistics" - high percentage of erasures and significant improvement from one year to the next. I guess according to the investigators who looked at the cheating incident, statistics don't lie, they tell a whole lot. I agree with you though, they should have read Disraeli… as you do.

See ya.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

You know your entire reply is non sequitur and nonsense.

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waltspecht 2 years, 3 months ago

Amazing what happens when certain folks feel they have been mistreated by the system. Look at the list of insiders that are now outsiders. Remember the principal and the board member were turned in by insiders. Do you think for one minute the State is acting on hearsay? I would almost bet they have a confirmed list of abusers that came from several sources. Wonder what the former personal director is up to these days? Also this has probably been going on thru more than just three Superintendants, and they all probably knew, or should have known it was going on, and just avoided the issue. I am dead serious, what happens when all the outside funding is cut off? Who picks up that tab? Then who picks up the tab when the taxbase reduces to nothing due to taxes being too high? Something you EXCUSERS had best think about, and start clamoring for a through cleanup of the system.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

My goodness, what an array of comments expressing an outpouring of outrage about the lunch issue. And what a display of willingness on the part of some posters to turn a blind eye to beyond strong indications of fraud, not just the usual waste we have grown to expect. This is a national scandal basically being condoned by federal agencies and officials who are involved as usual in using our money to buy more votes. In local education activities, the NLP has become a source of easy to get money that also opens the door to other monies--no one is willing to be honest and run the risk of cutting a teat off a big udder.

But I cannot help but wonder how many of you folks who are so outraged bothered to write letters or take actions other than "bitching" on websites, and among your friends, to try and get the issue resolved in some manner? And for those of you who say we are merely "feeding hungry children", how do you justify buying lunches for children of those who have the ability to pay but are willing to commit fraud to avoid paying?

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Many people are missing the point of this current investigation. It's really not about lunch fraud, the USDA doesn't care about that as long as children are being fed. Fine and dandy

The GaDOE, however, uses FRM numbers to allocate federal Title I money.

This is their sole concern. If lunch fraud is uncovered it is really just a sidebar to the story. The reason they want to look at any applications from 2,400 plus DCSS employees is because they can verify income and compare it to income listed on is on the applications. It's the only option the USDA will authorize and will provide a good sampling of the estimated 12,000+ FRM applications the system receives each year.

Does this make sense?

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

I understand what you are saying but if the end result is that lunch numbers are invalidated after individual cases are reviewed, it is a "win-win" in my book. Although the intent may be related to Title 1 monies, the FRM numbers are getting a look-see and perhaps we can get some of the crooks off the roles. And the result should be a situation where more care will be given to approving applications. I don't care if a crook is put in jail for a burglary committed or a robbery also committed as long as he goes to jail. The result is more important than the intent in many cases. Book 'em, Dano!

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

Indeed! The risk here is losing funds for so many good programs (when administered properly). The ruling cabal at DCSS would eat their seed corn out of self-service and greed. Read and re-read John Culbreath's letter published in the Herald today.

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

I wonder why John Culbreth left the school system to begin with. Hmmm didn't it have to do with misappropriation of funds? He is the one who started the corruption.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

Happy, I trust that you and the other dwarfs are rocking out today! It's easy to impugn someone's character under color of a blog but as your character suggests it just a little person's routine. My regards to Snow White and the other fantacy characters.

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

Those who live in glass houses shouldn't throw rocks. If Culbreth was so great, why did he resign as superintendent? Why didn't he run for school board? Sounds like he is someone's uncle to me. I'm starting to think you are Mr. Culbreth....hmmm

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

Do you ever read what you are writing? Your intellectual processing is convoluted. People resign because they want to do something different. Sounds to me like you are one of the folks hanging on to the DCSS gravy train because you couldn't do much else.

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

No, I don't work for the DCSS but I know folks that do. I am very successful and happy in my career, since you seem so concerned. Difference of opinion does not equate to poor intellectual processing. Personal attacks based on a dissenting opinion is very childish and usually a reflection of self worth. Alcoholism can have that effect. When you are ready to take your first step, I am sure that there are programs in this great city that can assist you with your illness.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

waltspecht's comment makes an interesting point about the possibility of information in the possession of the investigators. It would be interesting to learn that information had been altered from original applications. Murfree's demurring when asked for the data is non-disclosure which is always in the service of an agenda particularly when an agency is entitled to it. There is a series of incidents that add to suspcion. Murfree was infuriated when the School police enforced the laws regarding violations of school trespass, violence and FRM cheating. He demanded that police obtain approval from his office prior to enforcing laws which as everyone knows is illegal. Board member David Maschke had to file a freedom of information act request to learn what contracts the DCSS had entered finding that policies had been ignored and huge sums squandered. Recall that one of the contracts was initiated with Murfree bosom buddies. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

It was David Maschke who made the motion at the last board meeting to hire the child nutrition director back. The gang of three (Maschke, Ealum, and Tharin) are stirring up politics during the election cycle to get another gang member elected. Ealum is distorting facts for his own agenda. This will probably be Ealum's first and last term in office. Predictions: 1. The east side will not re-elect him, 2. Voters will petition for him to be recalled.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Maschke made the motion not because he felt Williams should not have been removed, but rather he felt protocol was not followed in her removal.

On regard to your predictions:

  1. That is a possibility

  2. Won't happen.

HTH

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

How is it that protocol wasn't followed? She is an at-will employee that is not protected under tenure.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Her name was included in a mass "personnel to be released" action item instead of being voted up or down as an individual. Maschke felt she should have been voted upon individually.

That's all I can tell you.

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Happy 2 years, 3 months ago

Just because he felt that way doesn't mean policies/protocols were violated.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Maschke was correct. Not properly following procedures is what got us in this whole mess in the first place. And when it involves personnel issues and lawyers are sitting around looking for work, one can expect law suits which will be won.

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skipper 2 years, 3 months ago

Perhaps if all who wishes to apply for free or reduce lunch was required to summit a copy of their annual tax return with their application for verification it would cut out the fraud. Employees of the system are not the only one committing fraud in the lunch program in this county.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Or this country. Google "school lunch program fraud" and other similar combinations and you will see MI,NJ, OH, and NC have reported cases identical to ours involving school system employees. The case reported by the Chicago Tribune earlier this year is most enlightening. When verification is not performed, or even attempted, the problem goes well beyond the confines of the school systems themselves, not that USDA or others seem to care.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

The USDA does not allow "verification for cause." Period.

They set a limit of 3% or 3,000, whichever is smaller, but allow no verification of stated income.. The Charlotte-Mecklenburg system attempted to go beyond that number and was threatened with the withholding of $37 million in NSLP funds. The system backed down.

I have seen numbers as high as an estimated 59% of all school lunch applications misstate income. It is what it is. Our case is different in that the GADOE is concerned about the FRM numbers because that's what they use to allocate Title I and IDEA funding.

There's your rub.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

Please read the post below on verification for cause. It is permitted--we don't do it. If I am wrong in the interpretation of the letter, where am I wrong?

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

Hang on. Verification for cause is permitted if fraud is suspected, as in the instances of Riggins and Baker. Random verification is not.

Part of the USDA rule is quoted in my story.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

From 2/10/2012 USDA lte on Verification for Cause in the School Meals Program:

"LEAs can use verification for cause to review approved applications for free or reduced price meals when known or available information indicates school district employees may have misrepresented their incomes on their applications to receive free or reduced price meals for their children. We would recommend that an LEA consult with legal counsel in establishing the parameters of verification for cause for school district employees.

Verification for cause must not be used to automatically verify the households of all school district employees whose children are certified for free or reduced price meals. However, from among the list of children approved for free or reduced price meals, an LEA could identify children of school district employees and use LEA salary information available to them to identify questionable applications and then conduct verifications for cause on those questionable applications.

Please note that any verification for cause conducted by an LEA is separate from the verification sample required by the NSLA and program regulations, and may be conducted at any time during the school year"

This is the authority to make the verifications given by USDA. For some reason, we have chosen to not do it. The authority is there. The question that should be asked is "Why have we not done it?!.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

And this is the authority the GaDOE is attempting to enforce in this case.

A better question is why do FRM applications require three signatures for approval, yet the ones I have been able to obtain have just one signature? The three required signatures:

Determining Official Confirming Official Verifying Official

I've seen just one signature on the apps I have looked at - the determining official. The other two lines are blank. Had the DCSS followed required policy, this whole story (and discussion) would have never happened.

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whattheheck 2 years, 3 months ago

In my opinion, there is one signature for a reason: The intent is to maximize the number of approved applications, which in turn maximizes money. If DCSS had followed its policy and not just "signed the form", as the one official seemed to do, it would have worked provided the other two actually looked at some support for the transaction. If they merely signed, the result would be the same regardless of the number of "officials".

But my point is the DCSS could have done what the State DOE wants to do many months ago. Why was it not done?--a question they should be required to answer.

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Terry.Lewis 2 years, 3 months ago

They were not interested in pursuing the matter is my impression.

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agirl_25 2 years, 3 months ago

May I just say, what an enjoyable read this has been, this post, without the idiotic interruptions of the you know who people who always jump in with their wise arse comments. Was so nice to read such intelligent comments. I certainly did enjoy it and have a much better understanding of the matter. Thanks again. A special thank you to whatheheck, Terry, fryar, dingle, and even you Happy (say hello to the other dwarfs..I loved that line..hehe..had to use it, sorry), and skipper and walt, and URwrong. Seriously, I did enjoy the discussion. Is always nice when one like this comes along.

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Cartman 2 years, 3 months ago

Don't forget there is a collateral benefit acheived since the lunchroom scandal first broke. Those who were participating in fraud, probably backed off when they saw that there were consequences. Thus the benefit of letting thieves know that someone is looking over their shoulders. This is being reinforced by the DOE request for data; no matter what the reason. The most desireable outcome of this whole shameful episode is that it gets better. We don't want corruption to be our normal. Think of a community in a few years where so many children were raised with the knowledge that their parents considered lying to steal benefits was acceptable. You don't want that to be your community. It's got to stop. If it takes constant oversight - then so be it. You reap what you sow.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Micro-managed by public opinion, In my opinion is a legal disaster. You try to please people who want to see you fail.

Cut through the chase, name calling, and mudslinging comments.

This is what will happen:

  • Murfree will get a raise
  • The teachers will be rehired
  • Obama will be re-elected
  • Sister will have hand cramps from typing
  • Bubbavet will retire from blogging
  • High legal fees
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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

Please remove all of B_r's bullshit commentary. Thanks.

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MRKIA 2 years, 3 months ago

YOU FORGOT THE PART WHERE YOU'LL STILL BE STUPID.

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Bubbavet_rureel 2 years, 3 months ago

Where did that come from? Each and every commenter are voicing their opinion, which is protected by the first amendment rights.

Please don't suggest removing people comments who doesn't agree with your idelologies. I'm a United States legal Citizen with rights, that are garanteed under the constitution.

You, Murfree, and the Teachers have the same rights. Any investigation is meant to obtain information, however, during the process if accusations are made, the accused (spell the way you like it) will have an opportunity to defend themselves.

Pressure from public opinion has it's place, however, crumbling about each and every issue, even though it is your right, In my opinion, which is my right, is unfair to the board we the voters legally elected, and the administration hired by the board, we the people elected. In fact, we the people drafted and ratified (look that one up) the constitution that makes sensorship unconstitutional.

finally, suggesting to sensor the Real Deal Constitutional Minded - Bubbavet_rureel is a rookie blogger mistake.

I respect your comments, please respect mine and Coach.

Note: Coach, why are you LOL... To be continued.....

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Sister_Ruby 2 years, 3 months ago

I've got sensors all over my house.

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FryarTuk 2 years, 3 months ago

My money says Bubbavet's #1 and #6 are sure bets. Murfree is too good of a fall guy for the cabal to let go at this point and the lawyers always have their meters running. As for the teachers being rehired, I would hope not but given the current teacher population, it won't make much difference. As for Obama's re-election, he's no worse than the guilded governor but when the super-pacs double down after Labor Day in the swing states, hold on to your saddle 'cause we are in for a ride.

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stc1993 2 years, 3 months ago

Albany Herald needs to get an ignore author button like the Newsvine has.

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