SAISD investigating suspected fraud by tutoring companies
SAISD investigating suspected fraud by tutoring companies; District filing formal complaints with TEA
Feb. 6, 2013 – San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) has uncovered at least five after-school tutoring programs suspected of defrauding the district under the Supplemental Education Services (SES) program, which is mandated under the No Child Left Behind Act. In response, the District has launched an investigation and will be submitting formal complaints to the Texas Education Agency on the companies. The District has reported the matter to the U.S Department of Education, Office of Inspector General.
Internal investigations at SAISD found documents that were submitted by tutors as verification that tutoring of students was completed, where the student(s) and parents alleged no tutoring occurred. These documents were used by the providers to create invoices to the District for payment of services that were allegedly not provided.
SAISD has notified those providers to cease and desist any services until the investigation is completed. Those five companies have sought reimbursement so far this year of just over $240,500. Additional companies are under review.
The TEA provides school districts with the list of approved providers, and parents may select any vendor on the list. Approximately 130 providers are on the approved list from TEA, with 60 providing services to SAISD students this year.
The SES program requires school districts to set aside up to 20 percent of the money they receive through the federal government's anti-poverty program known as Title 1. To qualify for the extra help, students must come from low-income families and attend a Title 1 school that has not made Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) for three or more years.
SAISD currently has eight campuses required to offer SES services to approximately 5,200 students, with a per student allocation of up to $1,501. Currently 3600 students participate, and $5.9 million has been encumbered for this school year.
SAISD finds itself in the same situation as many districts across the country that have found and/or investigated questionable practices by some tutoring providers in recent years, including Dallas ISD, as well as school districts in Oklahoma City, Columbus, Ohio, New York City and Minnesota. The SES program has also been the subject of reports, papers and studies regarding the program’s effectiveness.
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