Written by Jim Wilcox, general manager of WALB.
SCHOOL LUNCH INVESTIGATION
Monday night, Dougherty County School Board members voted to hire an independent expert to help them figure out how widespread fraud in the free lunch program is. We hope they’re serious, and we hope they follow through with a complete audit to root out cheaters.
A principal and a school board member have already been arrested, accused of falsifying documents to get free school lunches for their kids. Unfortunately, there are likely other teachers and school officials who have done the same thing.
One of the charges against board member Velvet Riggins is a felony. Georgia law allows the governor to suspend elected officials indicted for a felony, if he believes the charge affects their ability to do their job. Some may argue the case against Riggins isn’t serious enough to force her from office. We disagree.
She potentially used her status as a school board member to gain a benefit she was not entitled to, and she showed a lack of respect for taxpayers. If she thinks it’s okay to waste tax money on free lunches for families who can clearly afford to pay, how can we trust her to spend the school system’s money wisely?
This case does affect her ability to serve her constituents well. If Riggins is indicted on a felony, we urge Governor Deal to appoint an ethics panel which we hope will recommend suspending Riggins until the outcome of her case.