School District Reimbursed After Suspected $81,000 Lunch Money Theft

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The state has agreed to reimburse Huntsville School District most of the almost $81,000 officials believe was stolen by two lunchroom employees who were fired for theft last year. The two fired employees have begun paying back much of the the remaining amount, according to the Arkansas Insurance Department.

The Arkansas Governmental Bonding Board approved paying out $74,330.86 to the school district. That amount, along with a $2,500 deductible and $4,136 in restitution paid so far, reimburses the school district for the $80,966.86 lost from a theft scheme uncovered by a State Legislative Audit last September, said Alice Jones, communications director for the Arkansas Insurance Department.

School officials found out in February 2013 that the food service director and a school lunch cashier at Huntsville High School were stealing lunch money from the school district. Debbie Cornett and Kammy Middleton were fired that month after police placed surveillance cameras in the cafeteria to see if employees were properly carrying out food transactions.

Cornett and Middleton pleaded guilty to misdemeanor theft in February. They were sentenced to probation and ordered to pay restitution, although Madison County Prosecutor Joel Cape said no specific dollar amount was established that the women stole from the school district.

Authorities never established or proved exactly how much the women stole, Cape said.

Average revenue from lunches at the school increased significantly after the pair was terminated, according to documents released by the Arkansas Division of Legislative Audit.

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 $80,956.86 was due to the school district from school lunch transactions.