Tennessee Audit: School Cafeteria Manager Stole from Little Kids

School Lunch

A school cafeteria manager in Sullivan County stole ice cream money from kindergartners and spent it on herself, according to an audit Tennessee Comptrollers released Friday.

This woman, Deborah Beckman, did other things she wasn’t supposed to do, the audit said.

Beckman, the cafeteria manager at Ketron Elementary School in Kingsport, took at least $758 someone donated to the school to pass out ice cream to the tiny tots at no charge, state auditors said.

“Ms. Beckman stated that she used these funds to purchase personal groceries and pay a personal utility bill. Ms. Beckman also admitted that she made false entries in cafeteria records to understate the amounts donated,” Comptrollers wrote.

Beckman committed other offenses, the audit said.

“Although Ms. Beckman told investigators that she counted and reconciled collections and prepared a cafeteria deposit each day, she did not make daily deposits. The timing of cafeteria collections and Ms. Beckman’s deposits were consistent with a lapping scheme.”

To do this, Comptrollers said Beckman diverted cash collections for her personal benefit and then concealed it by putting in its place either cafeteria cash collected on the next day or cash from personal or other unknown sources.

“Cafeteria records were insufficient to establish the amount of cafeteria collections she took and/or replaced,” Comptrollers wrote.

“Investigators were able to determine that from January 2017 through November 2017, Ms. Beckman delayed deposits of over $15,000, extending her access to use these funds for her personal use.”

Beckman also routinely signed the initials of other cafeteria employees on cafeteria deposit slips without their knowledge or consent. That, auditors wrote, enabled her to misappropriate money from daily deposits without prompt detection.

Also, on at least six occasions, Beckman submitted reimbursement claims for travel to the bank related to dates for which no deposits were made.

On another occasion, Beckman submitted a duplicate travel claim.

“Ms. Beckman received payments of school nutrition funds to which she was not entitled as a result of her submission of the false travel reimbursement claims,” auditors wrote.

Sullivan County School System officials fired Beckman. The local district attorney general indicted her on 10 counts of forgery of $1,000 or less, six counts of theft of $1,000 or less, and six counts of destruction of and tampering with government records.

Sullivan County School System spokeswoman Ingrid Deloach told The Tennessee Star she and her colleagues are taking steps to keep other school employees from doing this in the future.

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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]







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  1. […] The Tennessee Star reported last year, a school cafeteria manager in Sullivan County stole ice cream money from kindergartners and spent […]