ALBANY, Ga. -- The latest casualty of a review of alleged abuses within the Dougherty County School System's school lunch program is Nutritional Director Vanessa Hayes, who was "not renewed" as an employee with the system Monday night.
Hayes was removed from the employment of the local public school system when board members Velvet Riggins, Carol Tharin and Darrell Ealum voted to strip her from the list of employees to be renewed, and David Maschke voted against the entire re-employment listing.
Riggins and former Morningside Elementary School Principal Gloria Baker have been indicted in separate instances related to alleged school lunch fraud.
In February, the board learned from a consultant that there was relatively little they could do under the law to determine if there was widespread abuse of the school lunch program -- which is funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
"This is basically an honor system, with not much of an audit system in place," Attorney and Consultant James Fleissner said. "Existing statutes and regulations dictate the scope of the efforts to randomly verify eligibility, limiting the sample to 3 percent of approved applications. My conclusion is that, absent a change in federal law, the DCSS is bound to follow the federally-imposed auditing system."
During the current school year, there were 2,658 applications that were not direct-approved. The applications, however, most likely contained the names of multiple children in some families, which would push the number higher.
With little discussion, Riggins moved to accept Supt. Joshua Murfree's list of renewed employees with the amendment that "the first name on page six not be counted."
That name belonged to Hayes.
One by one, Chairman James Bush called on each board member for comment.
Board member Carol Tharin asked that Hayes and the assistant superintendent, Kenneth Goseer, be cut from the list. Goseer received no other dismissal votes and will remain on staff.
Ealum also asked that Hayes be removed.
Bush and Board Member Milton "June Bug" Griffin voted to accept the entire list while Maschke was the only board member to vote against the entire list.
Vice Chair Anita Williams-Brown was absent.