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.

Letter to Auditor Yost (PDF)

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.

Approval (PDF)

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.

Treasurer's Info (PDF)
Checks SDA (PDF)

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.*

Columbus City School SES Provider List (PDF)

Bob Fitrakis is the author of A Schoolhouse Divided, a collection of essays on educational policy in Ohio.