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Report: School Districts Misuse Meal Money for Poor Kids

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(Sacramento, CA)
Wednesday, February 6, 2013
California public schools provide more than two million free or reduced-price lunches for poor students every day.
But the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes report found millions of dollars misappropriated.  
Further, it found the state Department of Education ill-equipped to monitor school lunch programs to ensure money is spent appropriately.
The report shows the misused funds paid for personnel, utilities and other costs.
The Department has required eight school districts to repay nearly 170 million dollars in meal money.
Chief Deputy Superintendent Richard Zeiger responded to the report in a statement. "The California Department of Education shares the concerns raised in the Senate report."
"We have updated our guidance to school districts," says Zeiger. He added the Department is in the process of hiring additional monitors. 
Later this year the Department will begin more frequent reviews of district food programs.
Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg called the misuse of funds "hugely disappointing."  He says the report's findings suggest that the problem can be fixed by "simple adherence to the governing codes."
"Unless the legislature is satisfied of a commitment by administrators to change current practice, we will be forced to look at legislative means to enforce adherence," says Steinberg.

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