Lunch Money Intended For Poor Students 'Misappropriated' By LAUSD, State Says | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Lunch Money Intended For Poor Students 'Misappropriated' By LAUSD, State Says

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Wed, Feb 6, 2013 at 12:18 PM

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Stealing poor kids' lunch money has to be up there with greed, gluttony and ganging up on Frank Ocean on the list of top sins.

But the California Senate Office of Oversight and Outcomes says the L.A. school district did just that, to the tune of $158 million.

According to a report from the office released today:

The office says at least $170 million of public money "to feed the state's poorest children" has been diverted and misappropriated by eight districts across the state that have been ordered to pay the cash back to taxpayers.

The biggest loser here, allegedly, is the L.A. Unified School District, according to a statement from the office:

... State officials identified more than $158 million in misappropriations and unallowable charges that Los Angeles Unified School District drained from its cafeteria fund over a six-year span.

Not only that, but officials say LAUSD actually appealed for more state meal subsidies in 2009 -- "before the state would learn the extent of Los Angeles Unified's diversions ... ," according to the Senate Oversight report titled "Food Fight:"

Two years later, the district requested a $70 million advance on its federal meal payments to cover cash flow at the start of a new school year.

Other big-city districts that allegedly diverted funds include San Diego's and Santa Ana's, state officials said.

They note:

... The funds involved were supposed to be spent primarily on free and reduced-price meals that experts say are frequently the best and often the only complete meals that many low-income children receive in a given day.

However, and this is a big however, the Oversight office notes that L.A. Unified has a hard time getting students who are eligible to participate in the free and reduced-price meals program.

(Doesn't mean they get to allegedly divert the funds and ask for more, though, does it?).

We reached out to an LAUSD spokeswoman for the district's response but had yet to hear back.

[@dennisjromero / djromero@laweekly.com / @LAWeeklyNews]

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