The City of New York’s Department of Education distributes federal funding for supplemental education services to benefit students attending under-performing public schools. This means that approved providers can collect more funding from the government if they increase the number of students receiving their tutoring services. (Now that’s an opportunity for fraud if I ever saw one!) The New York Post reports on one company, which took advantage of taxpayers and collected approximately $14 million for tutoring services that were never provided.
The story states that the bi-coastal tutoring center, located in Manhattan and Los Angeles, boasted endorsements on its website from a former governor, as well as the former chief of schools for both New York and Los Angeles. The company was supposed to provide after-school tutoring services to students attending under-performing public schools within New York City. In reality, the company was forging student signatures on attendance sheets and billing for services that were never received. (This company was supposed to give students an educational advantage, not steal funds and put our students’ futures at an even greater disadvantage.)
The Judge in this case approved a $2 million settlement and two separate civil claims against two of the company’s staff members. Both staffers pleaded guilty to criminal fraud charges and agreed to pay restitution to the government of $61,819 and $101,758 respectively. (What about the other $12 million the bogus tutoring center got away with?)
This educational funding program was originally intended to provide disadvantaged youth with a chance to excel academically. Instead, it was used to line the pockets of lazy staff members, who were taking advantage of benefits they did not deserve. Let’s hope school systems learn a few lessons from this case about this type of fraud and work to prevent it. Our kids deserve better.