Fulton Co. schools investigating cash-only cafeteria line

Richard Belcher reports

SANDY SPRINGS, Ga. — Channel 2 Action News has learned that Fulton County school officials are investigating questionable financial management in a high school cafeteria.

A cafeteria worker told Channel 2 investigative reporter Richard Belcher hundreds of dollars in cash were taken in every day with no record-keeping.

The whistleblower reached out to Belcher months ago because of what she witnessed in the cafeteria at North Springs High School.

Now the school system is investigating what happened to money received in a cash-only line that operated virtually every day.

Cafeteria worker Beth Walsh said she first called the Fulton County school superintendent's office to express her concerns about cash management at in the North Springs cafeteria.

When the superintendent''s office told her to take up her concerns with her supervisor, Walsh called Channel 2 Action News.

To document her concerns, Walsh shot pictures inside the cafeteria, showing four lines that have electronic devices to record sales.

But a small stand-alone cart nicknamed the Campus Cafe had no register and accepted only cash payments.

In her year at North Springs, Whalen estimated the cart took in about $300 a day, which is well over $50,000 for the school year.

"It's a box with cash in it and a lady back there just selling goods. There's no system. Nothing is written down," Walsh said.

When Belcher asked for several months of sales records for the cart, the school system gave him records which indicated no sales before the second week of May.

But Walsh said it was open all but three days this year, and a colleague told her it's been open almost daily for seven or eight years.

Whalen said she's been told she's being fired. She suspects it's because she called Channel 2 Action News.

"Any regrets that you are going public about this?" Belcher asked Walsh.

"Not at all. I think the right thing needs to be done," Walsh responded.

A spokeswoman for the Fulton County schools sent an email saying the system is conducting interviews and tracking food inventory, and said the school system will not tolerate any mishandling of funds, if that turns out to be the case.

The school system also promised to provide details when the investigation is complete.