No such thing as a free lunch?

October 3, 2011

Chris Adams


Children of a San Luis Obispo County school district superintendent were signed up for a federal free lunch program, causing some to wonder if school officials increase federal funding by routinely inflating estimates of poverty-level student numbers on program applications.

Chris Adams, superintendent of Coast Unified School District, and his wife make more than $26,000 a month. Nevertheless, Julie Adams filled out an application for their children to receive free lunches even though the program is only open to families showing income of 130 percent or more below the poverty line.

Chris Adams said an explanation “was simple” but he declined to discuss the application, noting his board of trustees has launched an investigation into what he called “a federal crime,” asserting the form “has been stolen from the district.” He said the idea that his school-age children would be receiving free or reduced lunches was “offensive, ridiculous.”

“I would love to give you an explanation but the problem is, there is an investigation going on,” Adams said. “The school board instigated it.”

Nevertheless, County Superintendent of Schools Julian Crocker said he believes a “proxy” search for impoverished students is the reason Adams’ wife would fill out a lunch form.

“It is possible that the Adams’ filling that form out is just within that context,” Crocker said. “That’s probably the reason he would fill that out — as would other parents who clearly don’t qualify for the free and reduced lunches — and those forms would most likely just be put aside (rejected). But the district does receive a certain amount of money because of poverty. I don’t think it is subterfuge.”

Adams scoffed at Crocker’s comments: “Julian doesn’t even have a tenth of the information… so anything he said was just his opinion. The problem is that information is confidential.”

Crocker, too, wondered about the information’s source: “I am concerned about how this information came to you,” he said. “That this information would even get out because it’s supposed to be confidential.”

Adams said that in time the story of his children’s acceptance into the program would be explained.

“What I want is for the investigation to be completed, and once it is completed, you will get your information” Adams said. “But I’m not going to get in the middle of this nonsense. I’m really not losing any sleep over it. I’ll tell you everything there is to tell.

“I have nothing to hide. This is very irritating to me.”

Schools with the required number of children in the free lunch program receive state and federal Title I funds that can mean more than a $100,000 per school, according to the United States Department of Education website. The program provides supplemental funds to school districts with the highest student concentrations of poverty to help them meet school educational goals.

After CalCoastNews acquired a copy of Adam’s federal application, school officials launched a probe to determine how that document was obtained.

Roman Munoz, of the Sacramento law firm of Kronick, Moskovitz, Tiedemann and Girard, was retained to investigate the source of the document’s “leak;” his scope has now been widened by the board to determine if there has been abuse of the free lunch program.

The free-lunch program is administered under Title 1, an element of the No Child Left Behind Act, Crocker said. Qualified families “sometimes do not apply for whatever reason, so the school districts over the years have made a real effort — and not just Coast Unified — to have all families regardless of income fill out that form.”

There is nothing new in this, Crocker asserted.

“My understanding from districts is that it is fairly standard practice to ask all parents to fill out that form, understanding that many parents don’t exactly qualify for free and reduced,” he said. “But over the years, what has happened is, parents who don’t want to be identified for whatever reason, may not want to fill out the forms.

“But what they don’t understand is that the district uses that information for other things, other than free and reduced lunches. So it’s just easier to just ask everyone to fill them out. That way, over the years districts have been able to get that information from parents, and it does present a way for districts to get additional federal money.”

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Why in the world do we have a Sacramento law firm investigating this issue? Is there not a credible option locally?

DUH. as Homer would say! Creditable local law firm, going up against write your own pay raise judges, “okay Homer you ready to judge yet,” Said Bailiff Higgens, “Na, let’s ave another Duff first, burp” if we do this we can’t ever go back in there anyway.

This law firm has a previous history with CUSD – do your homework.

Somehow, I can imagine this was an honest mistake, given the wording in the packets. I’m guessing he filled out most of the forms and then gave it to a clerk to pull his payroll data and fill in the exact figure for his salary. Lazy yes, but on the surface, it doesn’t appear intentionally fraudulent.

I’m more shocked that 57% of Coast Union students qualify for free and reduced-cost lunches. These are kids mainly from Cambria, one of the most affluent areas in the county with higher average (SLO county) property values. How the heck?

Read more:

Thumbs down for paragraph one.

Paragraph 2, not a problem.

I was just over at the Trib . This is why Adams will go untouched . He has a slick lawyer named Munoz . Munoz finds the fraud , then blames the innocent .

” Muñoz wrote in an email to The Tribune that “a district employee mistakenly entered the Adamses’ household monthly income as annual income,” causing them to become “erroneously eligible for free and reduced meals.” . ”

The article appears to be spoon fed with no fact checking . Oh , the Trib article also says Adams makes 160k plus bennies .

I think some people ought to get a life…. I think someone ELSE ought to do some fact checking, with their eyes open and their mouths shut for once. Employees make mistakes, people fill out routine paper work and that’s it. This soap opera/reality show/over-reactive high-drama society makes me sick to my stomach. Yes, there are plenty of instances of wrong doing in the world but, in such a situation as this where it is more transparent (I oughta wretch if I hear that word again) than distilled water, LET IT GO! There’s nothing wrong no matter who you want to poke in the eye with it!!!! GET A LIFE!!!!!

Do you really expect me to believe that his employee is this incompetent? Even she earns more than the salary she said he earned. Are you telling me she didn’t know what she was doing, is she really that ignorant of her job, I mean really? ? This is a federal form and it warns a person that they can be prosecuted for providing fraudulent information. This guy runs the freakin program for God’s sake!

Sure, it’s folks like you that think it’s just fine to rip off all us taxpayers, the ends justify the means and we should all be paying more anyway, shouldn’t we?

I bet the she did it on district time, too.

Say, happycambrian, do you know Mrs. Adams? Apparently she has a “consulting firm” in Cambria.

You know what? The posts (including the opinion article by Crocker) defending Adams all use the kind of excuses that a small child would use.

Crocker uses “The-Everybody-else-is-doing-it” defense.

Happycambrian and others use the equivalent of “The-dog-ate-my-homework” defense.

Come on. We wouldn’t accept those excuses from our own kindergartners. . Do they really think we’ll give Adams/Crocker a free pass on fraud?

Can’t blame the Trib. It must be difficult to write a story when giving a hand-job to a public official.

I laughed my a$$ off when I read this post . It is so funny …… yet true.

I searched this guy online. I expect we’ll see crocodile tears and a sinner’s remorse after the bull&$@” I just read about on this site. Why is it always the most devote evangelicals who get their hand caught in the cookie jar?'Loving+our+Kids+on+Purpose'+Workshop.-a0215023921

Nothing will happen to this criminal after listening to the BOS and the “no conflict of interest” for Orgen and Kelly yesterday. You see, when these “special” folks are corrupt the system themselves, how can they possibly see something wrong when one of their own do wrong. As we now know, the BOS, DA office, Judges, Sheriff’s Dept, School Districts, Police and Fire Departments are banging the system of course they see nothing wrong…

Thanks SLOBIRD , that about says it all . There is nothing left to see here folks . Move along now ! Move along .

The State sees it differently, however, and the State Auditor just got a whole knew bag of powers under SB 187, signed into law by Governor Brown.

You know, it’s amazing how one person with an ax to grind and an over-active imagination can do to a perfectly decent human being’s life. I think these people need to get off the witch hunt and open their eyes to the tremendous leaps and bounds this school district has made in three years- no teacher layoffs, increased technology for students, a transitional kindergarten, good facilities, the HIGHEST PAID TEACHERS IN THE COUNTY, and so much more. Our scores are going up…. what the heck more do you want, fer cryin’ out loud???!!! For the record, I did not qualify for many years for free and reduced lunches but always filled out the paperwork anyway because they could use the info. THE REAL ISSUE HERE THAT SEEMS TO BE GETTING SWEPT UNDER THE CARPET IS THAT SOMEONE COMMITTED A FEDERAL CRIME BY STEALING SOMEONE’S PERSONAL INFORMATION!!! Why are you all more upset about THAT!!???? Get with it, people!

I consider the person(s) that did this to be more of a hero than what you may think . The person(s) that turned the papers over to CCN did not know they would be protected under the federal whistle blower law and may have been rewarded a percentage of the fraud money recovered , maybe they still can . As far as the teacher’s pay , facilities etc , etc …… what was it that little artist fellow said ” the means are justified by the ends ” I think his name was Hitler . There are REAL STARVING KIDS that can use that FOOD MONEY . Per your words ” fer cryin’ out loud???!!! ” I would rather feed a a child in need . What would Jesus do ?

I was talking to a friend about this and as a pre-strike I would like to say , when you are pulled over for a speeding ticket and you tell the officer everyone else was speeding too the officer will say ” but you are the one I catch ” . How many times have you heard ” if your friends jump off a cliff does that mean you should ” .

…except there’s no one to “catch”… NOTHING was done wrong other than routinely filling out paperwork and someone making a clerical error WHICH was remedied within one or two days of finding out about it. Now, if anyone HAD used the free and reduced lunch under those circumstances, then yes, there would be an issue… BUT NO ONE DID!!! WAKE UP!!!

I should clarify…. it was CAUGHT by the Superintendent himself, not staff!!!

That makes me giggle…

The forms need to be signed by a parent. Did the “staff” sign it? If so, that’s even more fraud. If Adams or his bride signed it, then he/she is responsible for the content.

This dog-ate-my-homework crap is getting old.

In addition, I think even less of Adams now than I did before. It’s HIS kids who received free lunches for 2 years based on a report HE or his bride was supposed to fill out and sign.

But what does he do when he gets caught? He throws his staff under the bus.

What a sniveling little coward.

Yes we are proud of our District, however at the least this is a failure to communicate and at the worse fraud.

Failure to communicate : The application for Free or Reduced Lunch is sent home with the specific instruction it is optional and to be filled out “as needed”. THERE IS NO INDICATION THIS IS COLLECTING DEMOGRAPHIC INFORMATION. It is an application for Free or Reduced Lunch. Additionally there is information that the Adams children were on the free lunch list, whether they received a free lunch or not. How could that happen ? Will that be answered ?

So, why wouldn’t someone question this application from the Superintendent’s family for Free and Reduced Lunch ?

and why would they leak it….perhaps too intimidated to go directly to the District ??? or the Board ?? Hmmmm??? Keep trying to blame it back to the messenger being the bad guy.

Also the improvement in test scores at the grade school can be attributed to a principal who was truly dedicated to children learning…she was demoted by the current board and superintendent and they pretend they don’t know why she ended up quitting and taking a job in Paso…our loss and Paso’s gain.

i am more pissed about a publicly employed couple earning 26K a month! How in the world are they worth that? Then the Greed? OMG , no wonder Cali is in a world of hurt! Sad, Sad, Sad.

I think it’s misleading when someone posts under the name “happycambrian” but doesn’t live in Cambria!

I do live in Cambria

How can someone dislike that I actually live in Cambria???! For a very long time, at that… Just goes to show the caliber of minds at work here, I guess…

We haven’t really figured out the whole rhyme or reason behind why people click on thumbs up or thumbs down. You would be surprised at some of the unusual voting that occurs on here. It does seem ridiculous that people will dislike something like what you said..

Perhaps they don’t believe you live in Cambria.

Don’t take it personally. This isn’t a vote for junior-high prom queen or anything.

Your logic in defending this action is appalling. No teacher layoofs, highest paid salaries in the district, increased technology, etc. at the expense of all taxpayers because this creep lies about the number of minorities so his district can get bonus, scaling test results, etc. No wonder we are in trouble in this country when we read garbage like this. And how would any of us find out this type of bad behavior if it was not for the whistle blower. Point your finger at the crimial behavior Happycambria, because wrong is wrong. Thank God for all these folks who are coming forward and exposing your creepy friends…

lying about the number of minorities???? Have you ever visited one of our campuses?????

Don’t you realize that EVERYBODY who had a form submitted for the school lunch program (and some claim they did not submit that form, but only found out a form had been submitted when they got a denial letter months later), by now, has had their information “stolen”? They gave permission to allow the information to be shared with other agencies, and those agencies will share with even more agencies, ad nauseum.

Most companies of any size use internet servers for their computer programs and functions. Those records are all over the fracking internet by now, and there is no way they can ever all be recovered.

How many servers where the information has been stored has been hacked? How many agencies or consultants have sold the information to vendors? I am especially concerned about Mrs. Adams and her “consulting business” in Cambria.

There are a lot of big issues here. While I understand it is beneficial to you to try to focus attention away from the fact that, by filling out the form and applying for a federal subsidy you knew you did not qualify for, you committed fraud–really, your own fraud is a very big issue.

When you applied for a federal subsidy you knew you were not qualified to receive, you committed fraud. It doesn’t matter that the superintendent encouraged you to do so.

I will probably be universally panned for this but; Why do people who can’t afford children, have them in the first place? Then expect the rest of us to pay for them? I don’t mind my property taxes going to educate them (the only thing worse than a kid is an ignorant kid) but really, we have to feed them too? Or is it that they’re too lazy to get up and put a peanut butter sandwich and an apple in a bag?

“The only thing worse than a kid…” Really? You can only think of one thing that is worse than a kid?

I completely understand what you’re saying . I finally had a Sec-8 family move out of a rental , they took their sweet time to get out ( it wasn’t their dime ) , they destroyed the place , and took everything that wasn’t nailed down . Yet , I am happy to see them go . They started out with one child on sec-8 and welfare , now 10 yrs. later they have four children , still and continuously on sec-8 and welfare the whole time . I know that welfare and sec-8 are two different things maybe someone can explain it to me . I thought there was a time limit on these social services . Hey SHELWORTH , think of the medical cost of these kids , prenatal , delivery , nutrition , food subsidies etc … you paid for it . Do not worry about the kids getting government lunches , for one of many reasons they want to stay home to home school . This is where they are smart and I am dumb , They get to stay home and home school in a ” PROGRAM ” , while I worked seven days a week to put my kids though college and pay for these people’s ” PROGRAM ” .

I think this would be a great article , with all the state and fed cut backs , how someone can stay on sec-8 for 10 straight years . I was told , so it’s only a rumor , that sec-8 has a 5 year waiting list . This a tried and true subject of controversy that should be revisited .

Please , I want to make it perfectly clear i have absolutely no problem with home schooling .

Actually, once you are in the program you are in for life if you play by the rules. If your income increases then you pay the max: $1300 a month. They have this program in Hawaii and they max the government will pay for someone’s Sec 8 housing in Hawaii: Yes, $2700 a month – your taxpayers. What a wonderful country!

When is the last time you read a newspaper?

There are record number of newly homeless families being created every day by, first, the Bush/Cheney administration of avarice and greed, and then then Obama administration of avarice, greed, and war-mongering as a substitution for competent foreign policy.

Any group of people is only as strong as the weakest. Our country has been at its best when we reached out to help each other, and at its worse when we reached out to rob each other.

Yeah , your right about Bush/Cheney … EVIL , homeless families … bad , social services … very good . I am talking about people that are brutally abusing the social services when there are so many in real need .

Yep, I’m enjoying the Obama! I voted for the loser but will vote for any other change excep Obama’s. The man is evil!

You might want to include that in the initial post in the future. Not all of his are mind-readers.

The Adams and Crocker are just doing a lot of fancy talking and fancy dancing . They should resign immediately or the school board should fire them . If not , then Lois Capps , isn’t there an election year coming , should push for a full federal audit and investigation . We … you and me … pay all three of these people well over a 125K ( even more when you count their benefits ) a year to KNOW BETTER AND DO THE RIGHT THING . One of the things that ” do the right thing ” mean to me is making goods decisions like filling out or encouraging others to fill out fraudulent forms . There is no gray area here I could do that job for half the money and still make that right call from center field .

Yes , I know they would be placed on leave with pay for the next two to three years while the investigation is completed . Don’t worry we’ll be able to find them in Palm Springs playing golf .

P.S. I want to thank CCN for doing this as well as many other investigative stories . How this and the other stories come out …TIME WILL TELL . Until long-money becomes an issue for CCN it will remain the number one true ” FOURTH BRANCH OF THE GOVERNMENT ” in SLO County . Love them or hate them.

Well, someone expressed much frustration with the ‘suits’ and others taking us for a ride. Back east many thousands of folks have been demonstrating for weeks against Wall Street excesses. Check this out, something that just came in the mail:

You are invited to join with others to support the brave folks in NY, Boston, LA and other places who are demonstrating in our financial centers of power against the financial crimes of those ‘too big to fail’.

Wall Street and other fat cat entities brought us, and much of the world, to our economic knees. They are still making a killing while the average joe is paying the freight.

When: Wed, 5 pm

Where: SLO Courthouse across from the Fremont theater

Bring signs and ideas to share with others

“Activism is my rent for living on the planet.” Alice Walker