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Princeton Review Accused of Fraud in Tutoring Services
Ohanian Comment: If it's a school cheating, it's front page headlines. If it's a test-prep company cheating, it's buried in 'regional news.'
See Schools Matter coverage.
By Jennifer Preston
Federal prosecutors announced on Tuesday that they had filed a lawsuit against the test-preparation company the Princeton Review, accusing it of fraudulently claiming millions of dollars in reimbursement for tutoring services that they said it never delivered to hundreds of underprivileged schoolchildren in New York City.
In the suit, which was brought against the company and a former supervisor, Ana Azocar, the government said the company submitted false claims between 2006 and 2010 for reimbursement for providing tutoring services under a federally financed program. "The company and certain of its employees forged student signatures, falsified sign-in sheets and provided false certifications in order to deceitfully profit from a well-meaning program," the United States attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, said in a statement.
A spokeswoman for Princeton Review, Denise DesChenes, said that Ms. Azocar no longer worked for the company and that the current management was "working closely with the U.S. attorney's office to resolve this matter expeditiously."
"The activity allegedly occurred within the company's former Supplemental Educational Services division, which the company discontinued in 2010," Ms. DesChenes said. "No former S.E.S. employees or executives are with the company today, and current management" most of whom joined the company after the division was shuttered "had no involvement or role in the affairs of S.E.S."
The suit charges that students participating in Princeton Review tutoring sessions under the Supplemental Educational Services division were required to fill out attendance sheets that were used as part of the record to apply for reimbursement for the federal money. In New York, site managers were instructed by Ms. Azocar to falsify attendance records, the suit claimed. For example, it said, an invoice was submitted for 74 students who were signed in for a class in the Bronx on New Year's Day in 2008, when there was no class.
In exchange for the regularly recorded high attendance in classes, Ms. Azocar received bonuses. Efforts to reach her by phone were not successful.
The lawsuit seeks both damages and penalties.
New York Times
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