Audit: Fired Employees Stole $81,000 In School Lunch Transactions

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A state audit shows two fired food service employees may have stolen almost $81,000 from the Huntsville School District since 2010.

The Huntsville Police Department is currently wrapping up their investigation Friday (Sept. 13) and will hand it over the prosecuting attorney on Monday, according to Captain Todd Thomas, Huntsville Police Department.

The food service director and a school lunch cashier at Huntsville High School were fired Feb. 8 after police placed surveillance cameras in the cafeteria to see if the employees were properly carrying out food transactions.

"We counted up almost 300 man hours for the police department that we did just reviewing the video and installation of the video," said Thomas.

Documents released by the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit this week show average revenue from school lunches increased significantly after the pair was terminated.

An audit analyzed revenue when the two employees were worked the school cafeteria.

The report indicates on the days the Food Service Director worked on average, revenue decreased by$283.46. During the days the cashier worked on average, revenues decreased by $37.27.

On average, for the 52 school days after employment termination of the Food Service Director and the Cashier, daily a la carte sales increased by $11.19, according to the audit report.

The audit found that the former food director and cashier may have stolen $80,956.86 from the school district while conducting transactions for school lunches.

"After the people were no longer working for us we saw almost an immediate surge in revenue collected from the high school specifically from the a la carte line. So that's when we started keeping figures and I contacted police again to let them know that it might be, that it was a going to be a larger number than what we thought," said Superintendent, Dr. Robert Allen.

The Superintendent says lunch purchases that previously were not written down and are now being noted on a computer.

"We are using the Nutrikid system and that's basically computerized, it doesn't completely take away the cash. Kids and adults can still pay for items with cash but they can also use their lunch cards for that," said Allen.

Allen said they've eliminated almost 90 percent of cash lunch transactions.