Where is the story?

October 7, 2011

Julian Crocker


Where is the story? The article that appeared in the Cal Coast News this week, entitled “No Such Thing As A Free Lunch”, gave the impression that either the Coast Unified School District was somehow “inflating” the numbers of students who qualify for federal subsidy for meals commonly referred to as “Free or Reduced Price Lunch” in order to receive more federal funding than it is eligible for; or that the Superintendent of Schools for the district is trying to qualify for subsidized meals for his two children who attend district schools.

If either of these inferences were true, then it might have been a story. However, neither is true and some innocent people have been caused unwarranted embarrassment and stress. An adequate review of the facts and some common sense would have shown that there is no story.

First, on the matter of receiving federal funding to assist low income students. Since the mid-60’s the federal government has provided additional funding for public and private schools that is targeted to meet the educational needs of students from low-income families. The purpose of the money is to assist school districts to enhance the education for these students as one means of mitigating the debilitating effects of poverty on their lives and future. School districts apply for these funds based on the number of students whose gross family income for 2011-2012 is $41,348 or lower for a family of four. Obviously, it is in our students’ best interests if all students who qualify are reported and funded. So, yes, a district should try to maximize the federal funding for which it qualifies.

The use of the federal Free and Reduced Price Eligibility information is the most common method of identifying students who qualify for additional educational funding. All school districts, as well as private schools, in our county use this method and have been doing so for a number of years. This practice is subject to the annual independent audit reviews for both the school food service program and the school district budget as well as federal compliance reviews. The practice has never been questioned since it conforms to federal guidelines.

In order to identify all qualified students, most districts encourage all families to complete the form, not just those who may qualify. This process is more efficient and also lessens the obvious risk of embarrassing students by having only a selected group complete the form. The district reviews the forms to determine how many children qualify based on the income criteria and then notifies the parents. That is exactly the process used by the Coast Unified School District and all local school districts for the sole purpose of insuring that as many students who are entitled to additional funding and services can receive them. Last year, the district received $89,000 in federal funds based on this process. So what is the story…“District Follows Authorized Practice”?

Second, the implication in the story is that the Superintendent was attempting to qualify for Free and Reduced Price Lunch for his own children. Based on the district’s request of all parents, the Superintendent submitted the form as requested. The family clearly did not qualify and their form was discarded just as it, and many others, have been each year. Over half of the students in the district do qualify.

This implication also fails the common sense test. Why would the Superintendent of Schools in a small tightly knit school district where his salary is public knowledge think his children could qualify for a “free lunch”? Answer: he didn’t. So, what is the story? “Superintendent Follows the Rules”?

Unfortunately, a family, including young children, has been needlessly subjected to public humiliation and invasion of privacy (the forms include social security numbers) due to an apparent desire to create a flashy story where none existed. I would give the writer high marks for a catchy headline, but an F for homework and accuracy.

Julian Crocker is the San Luis Obispo County Superintendent of Schools.



  1. MaryMalone says:

    Maybe this is the story Crocker is looking for:

    California School District Investigated for Misspent Funds

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  2. oto says:

    Hey, rOy!
    Thank-you for the link to the free math lessons Web site. I didn’t go back to check my post for several weeks, and so I did not pick up your reply to my Aug. 19th post. The site is just what I need and very cool!

    Judging from the posts on the Crocker article, I deduce there are many parents who read the CalCoastNews, and at least one county education official who needs some math tutoring, too! As for me, I say, “Let them eat cake!….Let them ALL eat cake!”

    (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
  3. MaryMalone says:

    Did anybody ever hear whether or not Adams’ kids’ forms were filled out by office staff on district time? Or did she/he take the forms home and do it?

    (1) 1 Total Votes - 1 up - 0 down
  4. justme says:

    Crocker’s job is funding Latino’s education . As they flood the school system Crocker’s crock gets louder and louder.
    Crocker, just come out with it. You need more and more dollars to give away to illegals and create a salary for yourself. Go away.

    (-1) 13 Total Votes - 6 up - 7 down
  5. abigchocoholic says:

    This is exactly what I tried to say in a comment in the first article and the paper removed my comment. Why Calcoast News?

    I tried to tell it and all the bandwagon hoppers that they didn’t know what they were talking about and whoever the guy’s name is shouldn’t go on the Congleton show because there’s nothing to talk about until they know the facts.

    And I got censored out. This paper should be embarrassed for posting that article without knowing the facts.

    Shame on you CalCostNews.

    Next time do some real investigative journalism before you jump to conclusions.

    And all you fools here who just love to hop on a bandwagon and post stupid posts accusing people of things that you know nothing about, you just got yours.

    (-5) 15 Total Votes - 5 up - 10 down
    • Cindy says:

      “you just got yours.”

      LOL, I don’t thiiiinnnnnnnnnnkkkkkkkkkkkk sooooooooooo. Did you see the 10/07 post by Korie? The numbers don’t work. Coast Union couldn’t possibly have the % of “qualifying” FREE LUNCH program students for those numbers to work out. No matter which way you slice it, it doesn’t work. No doubt there will be a REAL AUDIT.

      (5) 11 Total Votes - 8 up - 3 down
      • korie says:

        I don’t actually doubt that Coast Unified has a substantial number of students who qualify for free lunches. I think they have one of the highest ESL percentages in the county. They have $13700 to spend on each student because they are one of a few districts that has enough property tax revenue to be self supporting so they aren’t subject to the states formulas. That money comes from the hotels and restaurants, retirees and second home owners, not from the parents of the school kids.
        My disgust is that they are still trying to squeeze out more federal funding on top of a per student budget that is twice that of Templeton and Paso. There is something wrong with a system that allows that.
        I also don’t buy Mr Crockers argument that everyone should fill out the form. My kids school makes it clear that it is to be filled out by those who “think they may qualify.” I cant see any reason for Adams to fill out the form and I would like clarification as to whether his kids ate lunch at school and whether he or his wife ever cut a check for same.

        (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
        • Cindy says:

          Coast Unified has 763 students of which 51.5% are Hispanic. Do they have that large of a Latino population out there, in and by Cambria?

          Something that caught my attention is when Crocker described the Free Lunch Program and then said, “Last year, the district received $89,000 in federal funds based on this process. (the program)” That doesn’t add up at all. 54.9% of the students are receiving Free lunches or 419 students. The reimbursement rate is 2.77 per free lunch and 2.37 per reduced lunch. I split it down the middle and used 2,57 X 180 lunches X 419 students and the reimbursement would be approx $193,700. According to the CDE 2010 reports regarding Coast Union SD revenue, the Fed’s (through the state) gave them $480,000 of which 176,000 was for the free lunch reimbursement. They also received 19K from the state for the lunch program. According to the 2010 report, they also received $236,000 from other school systems! Go figure.

          By the way, If the CDE summary is accurate, they received 9,257,000 from local taxes last year and they spent $15,890 per student in totla! Yes, I get your point ……..

          (0) 0 Total Votes - 0 up - 0 down
          • justme says:

            Anytime you have a white, upper middleclass retirement community ANYWHERE now in the U.S. you’ve got a ton of Latino kids in the local school. It’s called saving a buck on painting your damn house or getting your fricken weeds pulled at the cost of higher taxes and crime forever.
            Cindy, Hispanics don’t come up here to be close to poor people. Life is about being born then following the money.
            I’ve seen Cambria crime take a hard upward turn in the last couple of decades.
            I’ve seen the Latino pop. take a hard upward turn in the last couple of decades.

            (0) 2 Total Votes - 1 up - 1 down
    • easymoney says:

      Once again, we did not fill out any forms requesting free lunches forms, we we authorized to receive free lunches even though we were not eligible and then the school board sent a letter stating they made a mistakeand we were not really eligible, because they based the free handouts purely based on our zip code. Santa Margarita and Creston are named as the recipients just because of zip code numbers.

      (4) 6 Total Votes - 5 up - 1 down
  6. jackbnimble says:

    Curious if anyone knows how legitimate free-lunch recipients identify themselves in the lunch line. Do they have a special card or other form of ID? In other words, how does the cashier know who gets a free lunch? Seems to me that if there was going to be a point of embarassment/self-consciousness for students (and I’m not saying they should feel embarassed/self-conscious), it would be at this point in the process (at the cashier in the lunch line), not in the turning in of a certain form along with several other forms to the school office.

    (2) 6 Total Votes - 4 up - 2 down
    • Typoqueen says:

      I’m not sure but I believe that they have a code that they punch into sometype of little machine/computer. I believe that the kids that have their lunches prepaid do the same thing so it’s not embarrasing, the other kids might think that they are just prepaid students.

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
  7. rogerfreberg says:

    Okay, Julian, you have a Ph.D. and should be able to figure this out.

    QUESTION: Why do we still utilize the antiquated system of County Boards of Education? Most people don’t know that all that really happens is that they send out paychecks… there are other ways to get checks to teachers and we’d save a whole lot of money.

    So, does this letter count as a major accomplishment of the county?

    (1) 13 Total Votes - 7 up - 6 down
  8. obispan says:

    Schools should not be in the food service business. A sandwich, an apple and a cookie in a brown paper bag was good enough for me. If this needs to be subsidized in can be done through WIC/AFDC/Food stamps. The existence of school lunch programs is a flat out admission that WIC/AFDC/Food stamps = more money for beer/cigarettes/pot.

    (-2) 18 Total Votes - 8 up - 10 down
    • easymoney says:

      When I was a kid in public school we could buy a hot lunch (or sandwich, apple and milk)in the cafeteria for a nominal amount. The school staff actually cooked real food in a kitchen then served it in the cafeteria.
      Anyone see what they are passing off as hot lunches in schools these days? Some schools have a fully equipped kitchen yet only serve dominoes pizza or other corporate food bought off site…

      (1) 3 Total Votes - 2 up - 1 down
  9. CambriaKing says:

    Hey, after reading Crocker’s gibberish again…He has still not got all the information correct. He says that after receiving the application, the district discarded it. That is not true. He is either lying or not reading the Trib article that states that the family DID get on the free lunch list. They never took a free lunch, BUT THEY WERE ON THE LIST!!! Keep mincing words Julian, opps, Dr. Crocker. You guys ought not talk anymore. Every time you do, you make it worse.
    And listen…it is an APPLICATION FOR FREE LUNCH. That is what it is. That is what it says at the top of the page. If you and your federal funds sucking friends are using those forms for anything else, then you are guilty of fraud.
    Gotta love the Blackburn dude. he isn’t buying the bull.

    (4) 28 Total Votes - 16 up - 12 down
    • MaryMalone says:

      Since the information regarding whether the kids got free lunches or not would come from the same source that is running this scam–really, do you think the information is credible?

      (-2) 2 Total Votes - 0 up - 2 down

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