by: Richard Belcher Updated:
A high school cafeteria worker fired after she blew the whistle on suspected thefts by her boss has filed suit against the Fulton County School System.
The day after Channel 2 Action News’ first ran the story in June, the long-time cafeteria manager at North Springs High School retired and was later charged with stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Whistleblower Beth Walsh was fired days earlier. Her lawyer calls her the employee we would all want to have.
"She saw something that was going on around her that didn't look right, and she was smart enough and brave enough to, to look into it and take a stand and report it," said attorney Matt Maguire.
According to her lawsuit, Walsh became suspicious when she saw that her manager ran a cash-only line at a small cart in the North Springs cafeteria.
Walsh shot video, and Channel 2 Action News’ investigation confirmed that no records were kept of sales from that blue cart.
According to the suit, Walsh went first to Fulton County Sheriff Ted Jackson, who advised her to report the suspected thefts to school superintendent Robert Avossa.
Walsh's attorney says his client called and reached Avossa's assistant.
"Who put her on hold and presumably went and spoke with the superintendent and came back and told Beth that she had to follow the chain of command and report it to her immediate supervisor," Maguire said.
But following the chain of command meant going through Watts -- the very woman Walsh suspected of theft.
In January, school police charged Watts with stealing $500
Channel 2 Action News ran estimates showing that's $2,500 a week, $90,000 each school year, $900,000 over 10 years, and well over $1.3 million over 15 years.
"The message to the taxpayers is nobody's really watching out for you,” Maguire said.
“In your view, will Fulton County School system ever know how much was taken?” Belcher asked Maguire.
“I don't think they're ever going to be able to tell," Maguire said.
Watts is currently out on bond and waiting for the Fulton County grand jury to consider her case.
The Fulton County school system declined comment on Walsh's lawsuit.