Coast Unified lunch policy rationalized

October 14, 2011

Chris Adams


A lawyer for Coast Unified School District’s board of trustees repeated his interpretation Thursday of how the children of district superintendent Chris Adams came to be included on the free lunch list.

Adams and his wife, Julie, an education consultant, report a combined, estimated monthly income of $26,000.

Roman Munoz, of the Sacramento law firm Kronick Moskovitz Tiedemann & Girard, told a crowded board room that the form had been filled out by Mrs. Adams with the thought she was “doing her duty” as a parent, and the information on the form was subsequently misinterpreted by a clerk at the district.

According to Adams, his children never received a free meal from the program; several sources dispute his contention, however.

The incident has peeled back the veneer on an apparent pattern of data manipulation, using information gathered on the forms to qualify and apply for a wide variety of state and federal grants funds.

Many school districts in the state — including CUSD — encourage parents to fill out the free and reduced lunch applications, whether or not they think they qualify. In fact, the state’s Department of Education endorses the practice, even encouraging districts to have “signing parties” to facilitate a large percentage of parents completing the forms.

A designated district employee, then, determines which children qualify for the lunch program from the information garnered from the forms. A higher number of impoverished students means more federal money at year’s end.

There is little or no oversight at this point, because the data on the forms is protected by confidentiality laws.

Munoz questioned the appropriateness of the public release of the Adams’ form. He was asked by trustees to determine the source of the leak, and only later added an inquiry into the Adams’ inclusion on the free lunch list.

Jude Basile, who has children in the district, told the board that the form clearly indicates that filling it out is optional.

“The superintendent’s family was sent a letter by the district telling them they were accepted into  the Free Lunch program,” Basile said in follow-up comments. “The children were placed on the free lunch list at both the middle school and the grammar school. They were taken off the list after the superintendent’s application was ‘leaked’ to the county superintendent of education, and (Adams’) family received eligibility notification.”

Basile said questions remain:  “Why would the superintendent’s family file the application for free lunch, indicating income amounts that clearly would not make them eligible? Why submit the form at all? How was his family approved for free lunch?”

Basile suggested that a straight answer from Adams when the question first arose would have settled the issue. Instead, he said, the board initiated its search for the source of the so-called leak.

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The Superintendent was exonerated of all charges. The form was filled out accurately and the school clerk has admitted to making the error her/himself. Thank you to those very few Cal Coast News bloggers who intelligently took into account all the evidence, information and common sense before passing judgement. It is the only way our justice system can work. I believe the next step is to address defamation of character and the leaking of confidential information. I hope justice prevails.

What I don’t understand is how one can “set an example” by filling out forms. Who is watching you fill out those forms? Who is watching you bring them to the office? In other words, how can you set an example if nobody else knows you’re doing it? And if Julie Adams is announcing, “I filled out my forms! Even the free lunch one!”, then, well, that’s kind of strange too…

1) Mrs Adam’s claims she filled out the form (“I throw my numbers out there”) to set an example that everyone should fill out the form regardless of whether they believe they qualify or not.

2) According to Mr Adams, he gave the form that his wife filled out to his clerk but the “NUMBERS” were not filled in. Why would Mrs Adams fill in everything except the numbers? I thought she said these throws her numbers out there to encourage others? She didn’t have to write in the entire 330K, she could have wrote NOT QUALIFIED or she could have wrote 100K++.

3) The clerk accidentally entered a ridiculous number on the form that qualified her boss and his family as low income despite the fact that they earn an annual income of 330K. As a result, the children were subsequently enrolled in the program.

A story like this couldn’t get much more condescending. Further more, to believe that 54.9% of the students attending the Cambria schools are from low income families is to believe that the well to do area has been taken over by low income families who can afford to rent there. Are 54.6% of the children in Cambria living in cheap rental homes? How is it that this has only occurred in Cambria and not in Cayucos? BRING ON THE AUDIT.

Why is it that where ever there is federal funding, there seem to be THIEVES that think it’s just fine to rip off our tax dollars? Our government is the most incompetent organization in this nation.