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Private providers for the tutoring program Supplemental Educational Services in the No Child Left Behind program are accused of not using their government money properly, 10 Investigates’ Paul Aker reported on Thursday.
In SES, the federal money passes through the districts to private companies to pay tutors. Those companies get paid per student, which can be up to $90 an hour.
Kennedy Kent, a former assistant school principal, looked into the No Child Left Behind program for years. She said the way school districts are administering the tutoring program SES is “definitely government waste.”
Kent said that sometimes the money would show up but the students would not be in attendance.
“I think (the money) is going into the pockets of the providers,” Kent said.
In October 2010, Kent taped an impromptu interview with a Columbus City Schools official.
“We shut down a provider last year that had student attendance forms that had been filled out before students ever showed up in the room,” Kent said.
Ahmed Abdi runs Americom tutoring. He was the person that Kent said claimed students were present who were not.
Abdi said the allegation is the result of a big misunderstanding. He said he invited the district in to inspect, but they came on a bad weather day when there was no power in February; he said that was why no children were around.
Still, Columbus City Schools sent him a letter terminating his services claiming a falsification of forms, Aker reported.
Americom is not the only provider authorities were scrutinizing. 10 Investigates learned state and federal officials were looking into several tutoring programs in Columbus. State authorities were preparing investigative reports that should be out soon.
10 Investigates obtained a list of providers terminated for failing to follow federal guidelines. It included the non-profit Horn of Africa which has been accused of falsifying documents.
Director Mussa Farah confirmed he had been contacted by state authorities, but denies wrongdoing.
10 Investigates found other providers work out of locked buildings with unusual hours and phones with numbers that are no longer in service.
Kent said problems were so rampant that school districts should put the entire program on hold until authorities can make sure the money is going where it should.
“I really urge Columbus City Schools not to do the program this year,” Kent said.