• February 6, 2023

Chicago Public Schools Audit Report: Widespread Fraud in Free and Reduced Meals Program by Highly Paid District Employees

The Chicago Public School Districts’s Office of Inspector General’s 2022 annual report suggests that district employees are engaged in persistent and widespread fraud in how CPS students gain Free and Reduced-Price Meal (FRM) eligibility.

The Center Square reports:

The Chicago Public School District is faced with “persistent and widespread fraud” by highly-paid employees taking advantage of food stamp and state-subsidized health care benefits by underreporting their income, according to a 2022 annual reportfrom the district’s Office of Inspector General.

The report provides multiple instances where CPS staff fraudulently underreported their income and received SNAP benefits while making their children eligible for free-and-reduced lunches at their schools. The examples cited in the report occurred from 2016 through 2020.

The school district stated that it has participated in a federal program for more than a decade that provides free lunches to all enrolled students, regardless of their family’s income.

The Inspector General report states that the eligibility of students for free-and-reduced lunches is important because it is “also the determination of other important funding streams for CPS.”

From the report:

FREE AND REDUCED-PRICE MEAL ELIGIBILITY FRAUD

For more than a decade, the OIG has investigated and reported on persistent and widespread fraud in how CPS students gain Free and Reduced-Price Meal (FRM) eligibility. In annual reports for fiscal years 2010-11, 2011-12, and 2012-13, the OIG detailed large-scale investigations of CPS staff who fraudulently underreported their incomes and/or overreported their household sizes so that their children who attended CPS schools would qualify for free or reduced-price school meals. Those reports also noted that the number of FRM-eligible students factored not only into reimbursement for school meals, but also the determination of other important funding streams for CPS.

In this year’s report, the OIG again reports on cases in which the children of CPS employees were improperly designated as FRM-eligible. As in previous investigations, some of these employees fraudulently underreported their incomes to their children’s schools. In other instances, however, the OIG found that the children of highly compensated CPS employees were deemed FRM-eligible because the employees fraudulently obtained SNAP (i.e., “food stamps”) and/or health care benefits. CPS students can be “automatically” qualified for FRM eligibility without additional income reporting based on receipt of these state benefits.

Although the role of FRM-status in CPS’s funding has changed over the past several years, the measure still plays a role in how CPS allocates funding to its schools and in certain federal funding programs.

 Elementary School Principal Knew or Should Have Known That Her Ex-Husband Excluded Her Income on CPS Family Income Information Forms for Their Children

Source: The Gateway Pundit

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