Will Ohio's Auditor David Yost uncover the No Child Left Behind scam?
by Bob Fitrakis
January 30, 2011
Columbus City Schools received millions of dollars from the federally funded
No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Supplemental Educational Services (SES) program
to enable poor children to receive free tutoring their parents otherwise
could not afford. The Free Press requested public records regarding this
program and received documents from the district’s legal counsel Loren
Braverman August 27, 2010. The Free Press also obtained a video of Columbus
City School Board Member Hanifah Kambon’s suggesting that school officials
may be committing criminal acts
The State of Ohio Auditor, Dave Yost, is currently auditing Columbus City
Schools. The recently elected Yost promised in his campaign “to root out
corruption and waste." The Free Press has forwarded documents to Yost's
office in hopes that he will look closely at the use of the NCLB SES federal
funds by the school district.
The school district's SES Director Joyce Hackett previously accused SES
vendors of getting together and raising their prices to $70, $80, $90 an
hour to tutor students.*
Also, Hackett went on record with a Free Press videographer that an SES
vendor defrauded the federally funded program. Hackett stated she caught
one of the SES tutoring companies falsifying student records to indicate
they were tutoring students when, in fact, no students were present. Hackett
reported that she terminated the vendor but did not notify law enforcement.
The vendor Americom; however, is still listed on the Ohio Department of
Education (ODE) website as an approved SES provider.
The vendor in question Americom, also known as the Somali Development
Agency, according to the Ohio Secretary of State business database, had
already been paid over $48,000 dollars.
According to the school district’s treasurer’s records, the vendor was paid
over $48,000 under the name Americom; however, cancelled checks, obtained
from the school district also document the vendor was paid another $48,000
under the name Somali Development Agency.
Following the trail of the cancelled checks obtained from public record
requests, the videographer went to the addresses on the checks of 7 (seven)
SES vendors. The Free Press found the checks were being sent to low-income
apartments, run-down storefronts, and p.o. boxes, none of which gave the
appearance of housing educational tutoring businesses.*
Curiously, school district officials left off the locations in their SES
booklets of where the tutoring was supposed to take place. This booklet
available in Columbus schools is provided for the use of parents who have
children eligible to receive free tutoring. Under NCLB federal statute the
locations are required to be part of the information provided to parents.*