DISD auditors uncover alleged tutoring fraud

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on April 12, 2012 at 7:24 PM

DALLAS - A DISD external auditing firm said it has uncovered at least two after-school tutoring programs defrauding the district.

Not only have taxpayers allegedly been cheated out of tens of thousands of dollars, some board members are calling the whole government mandated after-school tutoring program a "waste of money" and a "racket."

They are complaining about a portion of the "No Child Left Behind" law, which requires DISD spend millions of dollars each year on after-school tutoring. The program is called Supplemental Education Services, or SES. The tutoring services are currently being provided to 8,100 at-risk students by 53 private tutoring firms from around the country.

About one year ago, DISD auditors started detecting problems. The outside firm of Weaver and Tidwell was brought in to conduct a more thorough audit, and it was that firm which presented the board of trustees with the findings of alleged fraud.

The firms being named are Cool Kids Learn, Inc. and Next Level Education Programs, both located in Miami, Florida, and both owned, according to sources, by the same operator. Together they are accused of submitting 1,245 fraudulent claims and defrauding DISD taxpayers of more than $143,000.

Investigators say some of the billings were from tutors who say they were not working for the firm at the time their services were being billed. Investigators also say they founds several instances of forged signatures.

DISD officials say they now believe that as many as six firms could be guilty of similar over-billing or fraudulent billings. DISD officials say they plan on turning their findings over to the Dallas District Attorney.

News 8's attempts to reach the accused vendor were unsuccessful. Board members say they are not only disgusted by the findings of alleged fraud, but upset that the entire tutoring program does not appear to be working.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

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