Information and parent guidance about investigation of tutoring providers

Information, parent guidance about investigation of tutoring providers

Today, SAISD released the following news release about an investigation into five providers who offer tutoring services under a provision of the federally mandated No Child Left Behind Act. A question and answers section follows for parents who may have questions or need guidance about how to proceed in light of the investigation.

 

News Release

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.

--- SAISD ---

 

Questions and answers

Q: How do I know if my child’s tutoring provider is one of the five being investigated?
A: The District will send a letter this week to parents whose children were signed up to receive free tutoring services from the providers who are being investigated.

Q: How extensive is this problem? Are there problems with all SAISD providers?

A: We don’t know at this point; we are early in the investigation. But we do know that many of our students are receiving tutoring services. This issue is not across the board, but we are seeing some cases where it appears that we have been billed for services that were not provided.

Q: Is this an SAISD issue or have other districts had this problem?

A: 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.

Q: What do I do if my child’s provider is one of the five being investigated?
A: SAISD has notified the five providers to cease-and-desist services until the investigation is completed. However, it is best to contact the campus SES coordinator to determine if any services will continue under your current provider or if you are eligible to transfer your child to another provider.

Q: How do I know which providers I can choose from if I am eligible to transfer my child?

A: Your campus SES coordinator can provide you with a list of state-approved providers from which to choose.