Saturday, October 28, 2006

Online EduFraud: Outsourced and Unscreened

In a very rare instance of an EduCracy actually going after EduCorruption, the New York City Department of Education has terminated the contract of a corporation that was to supply online tutoring services to inner-city kids:
Thousands of struggling city students unwittingly relied on online tutors based in India who were neither fingerprinted nor subjected to criminal background checks, probers charged.

Schools Special Investigator Richard Condon said Socratic Learning Inc. mislead officials to believe its tutors were based in Illinois and Texas while it collected $2.4 million in federal funds.

The probe found up to 250 tutors in India interacted over the Internet last school year with as many as 2,172 city students exercising their right to a free tutor.

Federal guidelines permit online tutoring, but the state and city require tutors to undergo background checks.

Rajan Sobhani, CEO of Socratic, said his tutors did not have Social Security numbers, which the city and states needs to process prints. But he said they have been fingerprinted by the FBI.

He added that he did not believe the requirement should apply to his tutors because they do not have "physical contact with students."
I don't buy Sobhani's excuse for a minute.

All who work with children need to pass thorough background checks. The stakes are just too high

Update:(10/29) Joanne Jacobs has more.
See our latest EduPosts and this date's Extra Credit Reading.