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Tutoring fraud investigation in San Antonio ISD

Tutoring fraud investigation in San Antonio ISD

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March 25, 2013 letter from Texas Education Agency to SAISD re tutoring fraud investigation
March 25, 2013 letter from Texas Education Agency to SAISD re tutoring fraud investigation

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Published by: The Dallas Morning News on Apr 11, 2013
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Resolution of NCLB SES Complaint InvestigationMarch 25, 2013
 Dr. Sylvester Perez, Interim Superintendentsuperintendent@saisd.net Ms. Liza Rosenthal, Accountability & Compliancelrosenthal@saisd.net Bob Ramirez, Attorneybramirez@epc-law.com San Antonio Independent School District141 Lavaca StreetSan Antonio, Texas 78210-1095 Tel (210) 554-2200 or (210) 299-1187 x139
Julianne Hoerman, President
1 to 1 Computer Tutoring
524 Meadowood LaneCoppell, TX 75019(972) 998-6642
 Naana Otchway, Manager 
 Avenue Academy
204 W. Bedford Euless Rd #109Hurst, TX 76053(214) 777-2848
 Florine K. Mati, Director 
Diverse Links / Diverse Learning
1220-G Airport Freeway #511Bedford, TX 76022(817) 510-3232
 Marion W Coleman, Director 
Boost Academy
204 W. Bedford Euless Rd #109Hurst, TX 76053(682) 970-9706
  Antwan Oliver, President
Educational Advantage!, LLC
233 Commercial Blvd, 2
FlLauderdale By the Sea, FL 33308(877) 663-2023
 David Mbugua, Manager 
Wise Links
2131 N. Collins St. Stes 433-517 Arlington, TX 76011(407) 319-6457
 Onyine Agwuna, Director 
Variations Educational Services
3085 Walnut Bend Ln #25Houston, tX 77042(832) 377-8378
SUBJECT: San Antonio Independent School DistrictBoost Academy | Avenue Academy | Diverse Links | Wise LinksVariations Educational Services | Education Advantage! | 1 to 1 Computer TutoringStudent Sign-in Sheets Submitted for Invoice PaymentProvision of SES to Eligible Students
 TEA Final Resolution Letter Page 2San Antonio Independent School District
Boost Academy | Avenue Academy | Diverse Links | Wise LinksVariations Educational Services | Education Advantage! | 1 to 1 Computer Tutoring
 Texas Education Agency | NCLB / SES Complaint Investigation
 This letter serves to resolve the February 15, 2013 complaint filed by
San AntonioIndependent School District
(district) concerning the named
Providers. The agency’s state-level investigation findings and conclusion are reported in this letter for each Provider. The agencys investigation was conducted under
Title I, Section 1116(e) of the Elementary andSecondary Education Act, No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) and the Supplemental EducationalServices (SES) Non-Regulatory Guidance, January 14, 2009.
Complaint Allegation for Named Providers
 The district alleged that the providers submitted fraudulent documentation, specifically, studenttutoring sign-in / attendance sheets, to invoice the district for payment for tutoring services thatwere not provided to the students. The district asserts that the falsified information anddocuments violate the contracts between the district and the companies. In addition, the districtbelieves that the providers violated federal SES regulations and the state application provisionsand assurances, including the SES Code of Business Ethics.
District Local Investigation
In accordance with the state-level NCLB/SES Provider complaint process, the district submittedits preliminary findings and supporting documentation to the agency for a state-levelinvestigation. While the district continues to conduct its local investigation, the agencyconsidered the district’s findings and documentation sufficient grounds for a state-level review. The district became aware of similar improprieties concerning Education Advantage after itsubmitted its complaint to the agency. However, there was sufficient information for the agencyto notify and include Education Advantage in this state-level investigation. The districts findings and conclusions are based on the following:
inspection of student tutoring attendance sign-in sheets;
auditing of invoices and payments;
validation of data entered in the EZ SES Management System;
interviews with district staff and parents;
interviews or written statements of students; and
responses submitted by providers.1. The schools subject to this investigation are Rogers Middle School, Tafolla Middle School,Rhodes Middle School, and Sam Houston High School.2. The district submitted a sampling of statements written by students and their tutoring sign-inattendance sheets. On its review, the district finds that a number of students did not receivemost or any SES tutoring or the learning tools that the students were entitled to receive.3. With regard to
 Avenue Academy
, on January 24, 2013, a parent was trying to transfer herchild because no services had been provided. However, records entered into the state’s EZ
 TEA Final Resolution Letter Page 3San Antonio Independent School District
Boost Academy | Avenue Academy | Diverse Links | Wise LinksVariations Educational Services | Education Advantage! | 1 to 1 Computer Tutoring
 Texas Education Agency | NCLB / SES Complaint Investigation
SES Management System indicated that the student had completed all services over a two-week period in December 2012. The Provider’s sign-in sheets were reviewed and 18students were interviewed. All of the students stated that a teacher at their school instructedthem to complete the sign-in sheets in order to receive a tablet. None of the 18 students hadreceived services on the dates and times as reported on the sign-in sheets that weresubmitted to district for payment.Certain district staff, working on behalf of Avenue Academy, were recruiting students andinstructed the students to complete blank documents. Some of the tutors interviewed by thedistrict admitted to signing the documents without tutoring the students. Studentsinterviewed by the district stated that they had not received tutoring or worked independentlyon the dates and times reported on the sign-in sheets. Avenue Academy acknowledgedreceipt of the district’s complaint on January 26, 2013 but did not offer an explanation for thediscrepancies on the sign-in sheets.During its investigation of Avenue Academy, some tutors indicated that similar falsificationswere done for students enrolled with Diverse Links, Boost Academy, and Wise Links. Thedistrict found that several of the sign-in sheets for Avenue Academy, Diverse Links, BoostAcademy and Wise Links appear to have been altered. One of the tutors maintained copiesof the sign-in sheets and was able to show the district that the name of the company hadbeen changed from Fast Track Learning (another SES company) to Avenue Academy.4. With regard to
Diverse Links/Diverse Learning
, student statements indicated that certainteachers at the school had instructed students to complete the sign-in sheets in theclassroom. Student statements from a high school indicated that students were approachedoff campus grounds and asked to sign documents in order to receive a learning tool. Whilesome students at both campuses stated they had received some tutoring, none were tutoredon the dates or times listed on the documents submitted for payment. Some students hadreceived a learning tool, while some had not. The district notified Diverse Links of thesuspect documents on February 5, 2013. Diverse Links responded on February 6, 2013 andindicated that some tutors had been paid, even though students had not been tutored. Nofurther information or explanations for the falsified documents have been submitted to thedistrict.5. With regard to
Boost Academy
, some of the students had received tablets, and a handfulhad logged hours on a self-paced system. However, none of the students reported receivingtutoring or working online during the times and dates listed on the sign-in sheets. During thistime, a tutor working for Boost Academy contacted the district because he had not beenpaid by Boost Academy for his work. When shown the documents submitted with his namelisted as the tutor, the tutor stated that his signature had been forged on almost all of thesign-in sheets, and that most were for students he did not know and did not tutor. The tutorstated that he had worked with only one student at the high school. However, his signatureappeared on a number of sign-in sheets from the high school and on one form from a middleschool. The district notified Boost Academy of the suspect documents on February 6, 2013.Boost Academy had not provided any explanations to the district.

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