February 11, 2010
DiNapoli Audit Finds Overpayment in Child Nutrition Program
SED Authorized $124,446 in Inappropriate Payments to Private Schools
The New York State Education Department (SED) made more than $124,000 in unsupported or inappropriate payments to seven private schools as part of the State's Child Nutrition Program, according to an audit issued today by New York State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. Auditors identified more than $24,000 of this amount in deliberately modified claims by one school during the audit, which covered the period between April 1, 2004 and December 16, 2008.
"Sloppy bookkeeping wastes taxpayer dollars, DiNapoli said. "The Child Nutrition Program helps ensure eligible children receive healthy breakfast and lunch on schools days. You can buy a lot of lunches for $125,000. And our audit looked at just a representative sample of the program. SED has to do a better job to ensure that these funds are used appropriately.
The Child Nutrition Program was established under the federal National School Lunch Act and is administered by the State Education Department. The program reimburses groups of one or more schools (known as "authorities) for part of the cost of school meals, based on monthly claims submitted by members of an authority. DiNapoli's audit looked at $421,403 worth of claims paid to three authorities on behalf of nine selected New York City-based private schools, and found unsupported or inaccurate claims to two of the authorities.
DiNapoli's audit found:
The three authorities examined were among nine that also received child care grants from the New York State Office of Children and Family Services, a program in which a previous audit had found extensive systematic fraud and abuse.
DiNapoli's audit recommended that the State Education Department:
DiNapoli's auditors have identified other problems with public school nutrition programs, including direct violations of federal, State, and City prohibitions on selling junk food to students.
The State Education Department agreed with the audit's findings.
State Government Accountability