DCSS to investigate free-lunch program

Free-lunch program to be investigated. / Jessica Fairley

In Monday's Dougherty County School Board meeting, officials decided to make provisions to start an investigation into the free-lunch scandal that has rocked the school system.

In a recent audit on the school lunch application process, school officials discovered a margin for error.

"Parents who don't return their forms, they were automatically moved from free or reduced to the paid section," said Dougherty County School System Finance Director Robert Lloyd, "The purpose of the audit is not check people's income. It's to ensure that the process that is undertaken when we received the form has been taken properly."

Without the ability to examine income, Dougherty County's school board chair wanted to find a way to look further into the process.

"Therefore my suggestion was to hire an experienced lawyer and that he or she is experienced in the U.S. Attorney's Office dealing with federal statutes because this is a federal program," said Dougherty County School Board Chair James Bush.

Within 30 days the lawyer is to clarify the provisions to be followed during an investigation.

All school board members except one agree with going forward with seeking a professional.

"I as a board member wanted to be more definitive. I felt like we should be very definite about evaluating and investigating and auditing the entire Child Nutritional Services program," said Dougherty County School Board Member Darrel Ealum.

Although he didn't vote to go forward with the measure, he still supports the board's decision to go forward with an investigation.