Report: Tutoring firms fraudulently billing San Antonio ISD

SAISD wants state to toughen standards

saisd-tutoring

SAN ANTONIO - Six tutoring firms have been removed from a state-approved list after a San Antonio Independent School District complaint spurred a statewide investigation.

"Some (firms) are going to homes, they're offering up a tablet or a laptop, and then there's little or no tutoring that we find, yet we are being invoiced for services," said SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price.

She also revealed the district had concerns about some of the state-approved tutoring firms for years, but it wasn't until this year that they found evidence of fraud.

"What we had was a parent who wanted their child to have tutoring and their child had not had any tutoring. However, we had sign-in sheets signed by tutors or the tutoring firms saying that this child had this many hours and had billed us for those services," Price said.

SAISD filed a complaint with the Texas Education Agency in February and currently six of the seven tutoring companies have been removed from the state-approved list for the remainder of the school year.

"We want the companies that have a history of fraudulent activity or unethical behavior to be removed permanently from the list," Price said.

Currently, the state process only allows for the removal from the list for the current school year.

Each spring, tutoring firms have the opportunity to submit an application for the fall, regardless of their track record the year before.

As part of the No Child Left Behind Act, the Supplemental Education Services program provides tutoring to low-income students who attend schools that have missed the federal accountability standards for the last three years.

"Quite honestly, the Texas Education Agency has not been as vigilant as it should have on this front," said TEA spokesman Gene Acuna.

Acuna also said the state is making changes, which will, in turn, make it more difficult for firms that have been sanctioned to get back on the sate-approved list.

Throughout the course of this investigation, SAISD has already rejected more than $280,000 in fraudulent claims.

For a list of recent stories April Molina has done, click here.


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