The way this story about school lunch fraud is written, you would think that school officials labeled their children as requiring free or reduced lunch in order to score the lunches themselves.
High-poverty schools have the ability to receive Title I funds from the Department of Education, generally defined by the states or local districts through a formula that relies heavily on the percentage of students that qualify for free or reduced lunch. This statistic is generally used as a shorthand for the school’s poverty level because it is easier to collect than family income alone and because it represents paperwork that most families are willing to fill out.
Although I believe that it’s entirely possible that these administrators’ children were fraudulently enrolled in the school lunch program to get free lunches. (But having eaten many of these free lunches at a high-poverty school, I doubt it.)
More likely, they are gaming the numbers to increase their percentage of free or reduced-lunch students, and thereby increase their funding. I bet a systematic audit of any major urban district would reveal similar fraud.
At the same time, the pursuit of these kinds of fraud is targeting the wrong places for graft. The cost of such an audit would far outweigh any monetary benefit that any individual school is currently receiving, and might find as much underreporting as overreporting.