SAN ANTONIO -

Each year, the Texas Education Agency approves a list of tutoring providers, which is then handed out to parents in the participating districts.

Last spring, six tutoring companies that had fraudulently billed the San Antonio Independent School District more than $300,000 for tutoring were taken off the state-approved list.

A complaint was filed with the TEA after SAISD personnel flagged a particular tutoring company caught forging parents names for sessions that did not happen. At the same time, the job of the TEA itself was also called into question.

"Many of your school districts -- and (some from) across the state -- have been critical as to what the Texas Education Agency has done in the past with regard to these providers and, quite frankly, their criticism of the agency would be correct," TEA spokesman Gene Acuna said.

SAISD spokeswoman Leslie Price said the district is calling for changes that include permanent removal of the tutoring companies that have been sanctioned and a more thorough vetting process.

"We're adding specific language to toughen that criteria, not just for removal from the list, but also the types of investigations of what (has) been looked at in the past," Acuna said.

While the TEA is stopping short of permanently removing any provider from the state list, they are taking into consideration whether they've been sanctioned in other districts -- or even in other states.

"Tightening that application process is significant because if it ends up keeping certain firms off the list to begin with, that's really going to be as good as permanently removing some," Price said.

The TEA applied for a waiver to the No Child Left Behind Act to allow for more flexibility in how the Supplemental Education Services funding is used. Under the act, the Supplemental Education Services program provides tutoring to low-income students.

If the waiver is approved, local districts would have more control over how the funds are spent.

"What we do know is that the use of tutoring under this program has not been effective, it has not yielded results, so I think we would be very pleased to see this program changed greatly," Price said.

The list could be permanently eliminated if the waiver is granted.

If not, Price said she would prefer a short list of quality providers over a long list of questionable providers.

School administrators are not allowed to steer parents toward any providers in particular, but they can answer questions about companies that have been disciplined.

There is also information on the TEA's website detailing the troubled companies.

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