Unscreened by state, firms cash in on Florida kids
In Florida, private tutoring is big business. But among those being paid tax dollars to teach are cheaters and profiteers who operate virtually unchecked.
BY MICHAEL LAFORGIA
TAMPA BAY TIMES
First of two parts
When Yolanda Axson wasn’t watching, a pot of hot water spilled into a crib at her daycare in Orlando, scalding a 4-month-old boy.
She served probation for felony child neglect and then, barred from child care, found a less-regulated line of work. She started a company to earn tax dollars tutoring poor kids in Florida’s failing schools.
When state officials saw Axson’s name on an application for the government tutoring program, they didn’t hesitate. They stamped their approval, and her business, Busy BEE Services, went to work tutoring Florida’s neediest children.
The cost to taxpayers per student? At least $60 an hour.
Axson’s case points to a larger problem with mandated tutoring in Florida: The program pays public money to people with criminal records, and to cheaters and profiteers who operate virtually unchecked by state regulators.
In a three-month investigation, The Tampa Bay Times examined invoice records from 59 school districts, conducted dozens of interviews and reviewed thousands of pages of complaint