Tutors Say Dallas Schools Ducked Their Bill

     DALLAS (CN) – Dallas schools hired more teachers instead of paying the $1.43 million owed to tutors who worked at underperfoming schools, a company claims in court.
     Diverse Learning Inc., of Bedford, Texas, says the Dallas Independent School District (DISD) hired it in January as a supplemental education services (SES) provider under the federal No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB).
     “Under NCLB, schools that fail to make academic progress for three straight years must offer tutoring to students needing academic support,” the 12-page complaint states. “The money for tutoring the students comes to DISD through federal grant money called Title I funds. Companies who provide tutoring services to the DISD students are approved and overseen by the Texas Education Agency,” or TEA.
     Diverse Learning says the contract covered a term from Jan. 1 to Aug. 26, and that it performed as required and to the best of its ability.
     But the district allegedly engaged in delay tactics and a calculated pattern of nonpayment to “starve” Diverse Learning out of business.
     “This pattern of conduct by DISD was apparently followed with other SES providers, as well, as DISD apparently desired to use the Title I funds dedicated to tutoring services and divert them for the hiring of more teachers for the district,” the complaint states. “TEA denied DISD’s request to divert the funds and ordered DISD to continue providing tutorial services through these SES providers or risk losing significant federal funding for the district in other areas.”
     As part of its campaign against SES providers, the district provided the Dallas Morning News with “inaccurate and unsubstantiated” information for a June article that accused Diverse Learning of tutoring fraud and of ripping off the district.
     “Investigation subsequent to the newspaper article revealed one of the three allegations as to Diverse Learning was false,” the complaint states. “The other two allegations involved corrections/adjustments to the billing that, once DISD made known their concerns, amounted to little more than $6,000 out of total services of $1.1 million at the time, which is a paltry sum when compared to the totality of the services rendered.”
     Because it has challenged these actions, the district retaliated by not renewing Diversified Learning’s contract for the current school year.
     Diverse Learning says it was forced to file a complaint with the TEA.
     “After considering the challenge, the TEA advised DISD that TEA was the entity to make that determination, and since TEA had already approved Diverse Learning as an authorized SES provider for the 2012-2013 school year, Diverse Learning would be allowed to proceed to contract with DISD in 2012-2013 for those services.”
     Diverse Learning seeks actual damages for breach of contract and unjust enrichment. It is represented by Jess Rickman with Hallett Perrin.

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