by Mark Price, originally published in the Charlotte Observer on 5/7/12
Charlotte third-grader D.J. Coleman dreams of being a professional wrestler named “Crazy,” because wrestlers get to hit people with chairs. It’s a perfect career choice for a 9-year-old who claims to be afraid of nothing … with one small exception. “Math,” he said, despondently. “Math is hard, and I’m scared of not passing end-of-grade tests. I’ll be held back in school.”
D.J. hopes to avoid that predicament by attending tutoring sessions at the Boys & Girls Club on Marsh Road, one of the better-known among 500 programs in Mecklenburg County set up to help kids before school, after school and during the summer. Experts believe the best of these out-of-school programs improve grades and school attendance, which explains why an estimated 3,800 youth in the county are on waiting lists.
More of those kids are going to get the help, thanks to a recent move by the Council for Children’s Rights to absorb Partners in Out of School Time, the small nonprofit that has led the push for after-school programs locally. In doing so, the bigger, better-funded council took on POST’s mission of improving out-of-school programs, including making sure more disadvantaged kids get access to them.
Brett Loftis of the Council for Children’s Rights noted stark disparities between what kids from well-off families do when they’re out of school, versus low-income kids. “Some kids do all sorts of wonderful things, like theater, music and art, while kids without means may live two miles from downtown and never go downtown,” said Loftis. “This is not just about tutoring. It’s about real-world experience that makes them ready for college and work. We have to make people realize the importance of that two-thirds of the day when kids aren’t in school.”
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Filed under: Community,Funding
By Bill Zeeble, originally published in KERA News on 4/12/12
An auditing firm hired by the Dallas Independent School district says it has uncovered falsified documents linked to significant fraud through tutoring services. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports hundreds of students who needed help may never have received it.
Weaver and Tidwell did a forensic audit of the federally funded Supplemental Education Services Program. It pays $80 to $120 an hour for tutoring, and funds for DISD are administered by the Texas Education Agency. The firm’s Bill Brown says at least two Miami, Florida-based tutoring providers – Cool Kids Inc. and Next Level Education – acted so suspiciously that their invoices look fraudulent.
Brown: We found there were a number of tutoring sessions that were provided and billed to this district that were after the point in time that the tutor said they had quit working for the providers.
Brown says there were 333 claims like this worth $41,000. He told trustees there’s more.
Brown: We showed a tutor an attendance-and-payment record and they reviewed every signature on that that and said that is my signature or that is not my signature, or more importantly, I didn’t authorize anyone to sign on my behalf. And that would be an indication we have a forgery.
Brown says 862 claims of possible forged invoices totaled about $97,000.
One principal said tutoring services are supposed to work with teachers to determine which students need help, but of thirty providers, only one actually did so. He said some just went door to door soliciting business with no input from teachers. Thomas Jefferson high school principal Eddie Conger said about 81 of his students receive federally funded tutoring but he cannot verify most of what’s done, because a lot of it’s off campus.
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Filed under: Government,NCLB
by Philissa Cramer, originally poste on Gotham Schools on 5/1/12
A company hired to provide tutoring services in New York City bilked the city out of millions of dollars in federal funding for poor students, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
The department today filed a civil fraud lawsuit against The Princeton Review, Inc., alleging that the company had gotten the city to reimburse it for tutoring it had not provided. According to the suit, the company’s fraudulent claims continued even after a city investigation — never made public — turned up misconduct in 2006.
The tutoring program, known as “supplemental education services” and mandated for low-performing students in high-needs under the No Child Left Behind law, reimbursed providers based on the number of students they served. Princeton Review documented how many students it had tutored by turning in signed attendance sheets; it also gave bonuses to supervisors of tutoring sites where attendance was high. One of those supervisors, Ana Azocar, is also named in the lawsuit.
The bonus system incentivized fraud, according to the suit. Investigators found that many of the signatures showing student attendance were falsified — and sometimes names were even misspelled. The company sought reimbursement for tutoring students who were out of the country and holding sessions when schools were closed, according to the suit. At one school, the now-closed M.S. 399 in the Bronx, the company said it had tutored 74 students on New Year’s Day.
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Filed under: Commercial Providers,NCLB