0

School lunch director released

Vanessa Hayes

Vanessa Hayes

photo

Vanessa Hayes

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.

Comments

brendajohnson 2 years, 2 months ago

Kenneth Goseer should be fired too.

3

PatrickY2K 2 years, 2 months ago

Williams-Brown follows up her announcement to seek re-election with an absence? Did she think this is the slow time of year? She probably was going to abstain from the important votes, anyway.

Goseer is an idiot, an embarrassment, and a liability. At least Ms Tharin tried to do the right thing.

4

Outtahere 2 years, 2 months ago

I know reading comprehension is my strong point but.... I'm confused. Maschke wanted the list of names to remain employeed and the other board members wanted them out?? I haven't had my coffee yet, can someone help me out?

2

Momof3 2 years, 2 months ago

This is what Mr. MNaschke said in the DCSS nonrenewals article:

"Maschke explained his "no" vote, saying it was not a vote against the recommended nonrenewals, but with the reappointment list as a whole.

"It is my understanding that the (nonrenewal) letters had already been issued," Maschke said. "So that was a moot point. I did not feel compelled to support carte blanche reappointments and still not know where we are going to cut the budget on this $9 million shortfall we are facing."

1

Outtahere 2 years, 2 months ago

Thanks. I was wondering why he voted no. I usually look to him for logical votes and comments!

1

agonized 2 years, 2 months ago

Am I the only one who finds it ironic that Velvet Riggins moved to "not renew" the director of the school lunch program?

6

Shinedownfan 2 years, 2 months ago

ROTFLOL!!!!! Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha, hee, hee, hee, hee... thanks, agonized, i needed that this morning!

1

VSU 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe she ratted on her, and this is her revenge.

3

PatrickY2K 2 years, 2 months ago

Revenge is why Lloyd was fired. He didn't cover for Riggins. This is another reason that Riggins shouldn't even be an active member of the School Board, now. The Girls Scouts did the right thing, why can't the DCSS?

2

chinaberry25 2 years, 2 months ago

Cannot cry too much over Lloyd because he should have been fired when he got into that fight.

0

Citizen_A 2 years, 2 months ago

No...you aren't the only one...I would have been laughing myself, except I was too busy shaking my head.

0

Clif 2 years, 2 months ago

Mass confusion in Albany. Just like Father's Day in Harlem.

1

darnette0101 2 years, 2 months ago

That was not called for. Everyone was having an interesting and funny observation then you had to go there. Why? Idiot!!

1

justme 2 years, 2 months ago

Clif, you should find one and jump off.

1

Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

Clif, sadly...what you said is too true. And you get attacked for saying it.

In my book, you put your finger on America's #1 Problem! If that were corrected, about a Trillion related problems would be better in this country.

1

jglass 2 years, 2 months ago

So, why is Velvet able to vote? I think probably all three should have been voted out, but they would have just put two of them in another position and given them the same pay!!!!

4

brownjug 2 years, 2 months ago

My thoughts exactly! Why is Riggins able to vote on anything? She needs to be put off the board.

1

Cartman 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree. Even while she remains on the board, she should see the obvious conflict of voting on any matters remotely related to her own situation; and the hypocrisy of voting a punishment for someone else in a school lunch matter.

2

agonized 2 years, 2 months ago

Absolutely--it's a clear conflict of interest. In the real world of school boards, she would have been exempt from the vote on this issue at least OR done the right thing and abstained. Actually, she would have been removed from office, but that isn't easy to do, particularly when she hasn't been brought to trial yet. But obviously, the Board's behavior is to be expected from the land of make-believe.

1

KaosinAlbany 2 years, 2 months ago

I agree, the right thing for Riggins to do would have been to abstain but she didn't and that is WRONG in my eyes. She will NEVER do what is right for the school system and the children of Dougherty County.

0

chinaberry25 2 years, 2 months ago

Because the governor has not removed her.

0

TheBoss 2 years, 2 months ago

Guess another position for an ASU Alumni is now available.

2

whattheheck 2 years, 2 months ago

The USDA provides for "Verification for Cause" of school lunch applications per 2/12/2012 USDA letter, extracted in part. The BOE and its lawyer should have a copy of the letter and the Herald does have a copy. Don't let folks tell you otherwise about audits--this is "bull caca".

"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".

0

outsidelookinin 2 years, 2 months ago

Not sure what you're saying here but, until this past year, the school system had no real reason to go above and beyond with the audits. Who would have suspected a principal and a board member would ever commit such fraud. Especially over such a small amount of money. That is not the case any longer. I think the school system should, and must identify any employee that is applying for free or reduced lunch and then verify their qualifications.

That said, we can't really hold anyone accountable for these past transgressions except those responsible, i.e. Riggins and Baker. Firing the Director of nutrition was simply another case of diverting attention away from the real criminals in the DCSS. How does Goseer keep his job when the Board attorney specifically said reimbursing the money to the parent was illegal! HE BROKE THE LAW! What's more his immediate supervisor (Murfree) had to have known about it!! Furthermore BOTH of them knew it because, according to Coleman, he told them before they did it!!!

1

agonized 2 years, 2 months ago

I thought it was established in one of these umpteen meetings they've had recently that Murfree authorized the check and release of SCHOOL funds and Goseer was taking the fall for it, which is utterly ridiculous on his part. I could be wrong, though. I agree with you that it's unbelievable that nothing has been done about it.

1

whattheheck 2 years, 2 months ago

The system had no reason to go above and beyond the norm except that those approving the forms should have recognized their own DCSS employees in the pile and have an inkling of their income, I would think. Once the cat was out of the bag on Riggins and Baker, the verification should have begun on others. Nationally, there were identical cases of school system employees already found to have been doing the same thing and one would think "Gee, maybe we have the same problem in DCSS". Now we know and now we have the authority so the question is why aren't we looking for the rats in the cupboard? We are not feeding needy children in these cases. Rather, it is the children of greedy parents who have no problem scamming the system.

I don't have a problem with looking for chiselers. I do have a problem with turning a blind eye to the problem.

1

tywebb 2 years, 2 months ago

i'm confused......again! why was she not rehired? it doesn't really say. maybe i just missed it? and if she's not rehired because of the free lunch thing, well then, others should be gone as well

0

dingleberry 2 years, 2 months ago

Perhaps the jelly was a little skimpy on the PB&J samiches.....Sounds like she is the "fall person" but we don't know what part she played. Maybe she is the one who "outed" Velvet et al.

1

chinaberry25 2 years, 2 months ago

No, no, no peanut butter is not allowed anymore in schools. Haven't had them this year.

1

dingleberry 2 years, 2 months ago

Has anyone ever seen the USDA letter Whattheheck references? Can someone print or post a copy for all to see?

0

Sister_Ruby 2 years, 2 months ago

It appears to me that some of the DCSS Board are "doing the right thing" in hopes that they will be given a reduced sentence for Good Behavior when their turn comes.

No excuse for Williams-Brown to be absent. PATHETIC!!!! She just didn't want to go on record as against any of her buddies in personnel matters. COWARD!!!!

2

agonized 2 years, 2 months ago

Why, she's too busy on the campaign trail to actually honor the responsibilities of her current elected position!

2

beavis2012 2 years, 2 months ago

Riggins has been charged with 2 felonies that are directly related to this womans job. Riggins shouldn't be anywhere near this discussion and these BOE members should have called her out on it. It seems to me that none of them are "doing the right thing" ... this board is a complete joke. These people have no ethics and Albany pays the price for their stupidity.

0

daddiemoon 2 years, 2 months ago

Why would the rest of the "Board members" agree to this revenge... Its clear that she is still very upset about the fact that she was busted about stealing funds from the system... The "Girl Scouts" of America, knew that her integerity could not be trusted...Yet, the rest of the dummies on the "Board" still back a person who has been proven wrong... I am just wondering how long this "Freak show" will go on....Who is next on the list ???? or better yet... Why is the Leader of the stupid pack and his # 1 flunkie not on the chopping block??? ( Murphy & Gooser)

0

PatrickY2K 2 years, 2 months ago

Why was the budget deadline not mentioned in the meeting? The superintendent's proposal eliminates positions. If these people need to look for other jobs, every day is important. Decisions need to be made!

0

coachjohnson42 2 years, 2 months ago

well....the school lunch food does suck these days so....ummmm.....

0

Happy 2 years, 2 months ago

Maybe over at the SGRAC...

0

TheBoss 2 years, 2 months ago

Heard its not too good in jail either.

0

tywebb 2 years, 2 months ago

yeah, but that's everywhere, not just dcss

0

alleebrin 2 years, 2 months ago

Taxpayers need to stop coddling these kids. Parents need to step up to bat - fix them breakfast, a snack for mid-morning tucked in their backpack and feed them when they get home. Why wouldn't this work? Well, mama is out struggling to make ends meet. And where is daddy? Well, only God know WHO HE IS!

0

agonized 2 years, 2 months ago

Sadly, in some cases, Grandmama is the one struggling to make ends meet, while mama is either in the prison system, drug-addicted or simply doesn't want the child/children and is off doing her thing. Daddy, as you said, is unkown and certainly doesn't know or care. The only thing that gives me pause is how some sorry parents/guardians trade Peach Cards (food stamps) for cash to buy cigs, alcohol, or drugs many times and the only meals the kids get are actually at school. Probably not very many, but there are some that would be affected. A relative of mine used to have to go through these forms and it drove them crazy because of the lack of documentation required. They're basically rubber-stamped and although there weren't any school officials and nothing of this scale, there were some questionable forms. Not much can be done, as the big-city lawyer told the Board.

0

Sign in to comment