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Special Audit of Columbus Tutoring Program Released
$850,000 in Findings for Recovery Issued
Columbus – A total of 27 tutoring service providers charged the Columbus City School District $850,000 for tutoring that never happened or for students that were no longer in the district, according to a special audit released today by Auditor of State Dave Yost.
“This report totals the theft in dollars, but there’s no price tag on the theft of these children’s futures,” Auditor Yost said. “That’s the biggest tragedy of all.”
“We continue to work to protect the integrity of all federally funded programs, especially those established to provide low-income families with educational services that help improve their lives,” U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart said.
In December 2010, the Auditor of State’s office received an online complaint that the Columbus City School District was using federal No Child Left Behind and Supplemental Educational Services funds to pay ineffective tutors and was not following district policy. Subsequent information obtained by the Auditor of State’s office indicated the tutors were not providing the services for which they received payment. Results of a preliminary investigation were reviewed by the Special Audit Task Force, and a special audit was launched in June 2011. The special audit reviewed tutoring services said to be provided from July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2011.
Auditor of State investigators conducted hundreds of interviews with parents and guardians of students claimed on invoices submitted by seven providers to determine whether the students actually received tutoring services. They found that 382 students did not attend all the tutoring sessions claimed by the providers. A total of $673,458 in findings for recovery was issued against the seven providers.
Auditors reviewed student attendance forms and withdrawal dates and found that 21 providers billed and received payments for services provided to students after the students had withdrawn from the Columbus City School District. An additional $136,142 in findings for recovery was issued against the 21 providers.
Investigators also interviewed certain tutors identified on invoices submitted by WAISS Network Technologies (WAISS) as having provided tutoring services during the audit period. The interviews revealed that six tutors did not provide the services claimed by WAISS. A finding for recovery in the amount of $30,394 was issued against WAISS.
Auditors used district-prepared monitoring forms and billing information to identify tutoring sessions that were not yet provided, but were billed for by the providers. In addition, auditors identified instances where providers billed and received payments for more students than documented by the district’s periodic site visits. A total of $10,297 in findings for recovery was issued against 11 providers.
On September 10, 2015, Dayspring Christian CDC repaid $519 to the Columbus City School District.
Auditor Yost also announced today the indictment of Mussa Farrah, owner of Horn of Africa, on October 1, 2013. The indictment was recently unsealed by U.S. Attorney Carter Stewart and charges Farrah with five counts of making false statements and six counts of aggravated identity theft.
As a result of this special audit work, Ashkir Ali of WAISS Network Technologies was charged with two counts of making false statements and two counts of aggravated identity theft. In 2013, he was sentenced to 13 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution of $115,916.
A full copy of this special audit may be accessed online.
The Auditor of State’s office, one of five independently elected statewide offices in Ohio, is responsible for auditing more than 5,800 state and local government agencies. Under the direction of Auditor Dave Yost, the office also provides financial services to local governments, investigates and prevents fraud in public agencies and promotes transparency in government.