Former Hamburg School District Child Nutrition Director Donna Sue Shields was charged Thursday with forgery and abuse of office.
Shields, 53, is alleged to have altered applications for free and reduced-price meals, enabling ineligible students to qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
In a January 2013 written statement to a state auditor, Shields said she “randomly & seldomly changed an application in 2011-2012 in order for a family to receive F/R benefits.”
Explaining to a state auditor her procedure of reviewing free and reduced price meal applications, Shields said she “took applications at face value and did not contact families I might know to verify those in household or if there was missing income.”
Shields, who resigned following the audit, altered applications for free and reduced-price meals to enable ineligible students to qualify for free or reduced-price meals during 2012 and 2013, according to the state audit report.
Auditors also examined unaltered applications for free and reduced-price meals and noted one application was improperly approved as free instead of reduced-price. Additionally, employees and parents of students reportedly did not properly report their household size and/or income to qualify for free or reduced-price meals in both fiscal years 2012 and 2013, according to the state audit report.
The audit findings were reported recently to the Legislative Joint Audit Committee and turned over to 10th Judicial District Prosecutor Thomas Deen, who conducted a criminal investigation into the audit findings to determine whether criminal charges should be filed.
He charged Shields Thursday with second-degree forgery and abuse of office.
Second-degree forgery is a Class C felony punishable by three to 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $10,000. Abuse of office is a Class B misdemeanor punishable by a maximum 90-day prison sentence and a maximum fine of $1,000.
Meanwhile, the Hamburg School District repaid the state $256,264 to correct overpayments from the 2011-2012 school year and will lose a substantial amount of aid revenue.