Expose by Star-Ledger Uncovers Fraud at Highest Levels
Senator Michael Doherty, a member of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee, has sent a letter to New Jersey Attorney General Paula Dow asking her to investigate allegations of corruption and fraud in the National School Lunch Program in the Elizabeth school district. According to published reports in the Star-Ledger, the president of the Elizabeth Board of Education, a school principal, and a supervisor of custodians, all have children enrolled in the free or reduced price lunch program, even though their incomes appear to significantly exceed the level needed to qualify for the program.
Click here to view a PDF of the letter from Doherty to Dow.
Doherty stated, “If the Star-Ledger story is true, it appears that highly paid school officials in Elizabeth are gaming the system for their own personal enrichment. Perhaps of greater importance, under New Jersey’s system for funding schools, enrolling a student in the free and reduced price lunch program triggers an “At Risk” designation for the student, which results in an additional $6,000-7,000 of state school aid for each student enrolled in the program. This additional school aid, which can exceed hundreds of millions of dollars per year, is collected from taxpayers throughout the state.”
Doherty also noted a June 2011 report, issued by the State Auditor, Stephen Eells, which found that 37% of the students signed up for the free and reduced price lunch program were actually ineligible.
“It appears that the type of fraud uncovered in Elizabeth may be rampant. I urge the Attorney General to immediately investigate this matter in Elizabeth and across the state,” concluded Doherty.