State Education Commissioner John King agreed Tuesday with a comptroller’s office report finding that oversight of preschool special education is lacking. King’s solution: Let the comptroller’s office handle it.
State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli released a report Tuesday showing that the state Education Department has not conducted an on-site audit of preschool special ed providers since 2007, despite recent instances of fraud.
King responded in a statement that the department doesn’t have to resources to investigate providers on the necessary scale, so DiNapoli should “put his army of auditors to work protecting funding for these special needs children. There’s too much at stake for the children in these programs to wait any longer.”
King urged the Legislature to pass a law allowing the comptroller’s office to “take a look at providers’ books.”
Read King’s full statement here:
“In November, before the Comptroller began this audit, we adopted a number of reforms to help make sure pre-k special education funding is not subjected to waste, fraud or abuse—including a proposal to ban for-profit-agencies from contracting for state funded special education services and suspending approval of new providers.
“The Comptroller’s audit makes it clear: more audits need to be done to protect pre-k special education funding. Unfortunately, SED does not have the staff or resources to fiscally audit every special education provider. That’s why the Board of Regents has recommended that the Comptroller’s Office expand its audits of pre-k special education providers across the state.
“The 2005 School District Oversight Legislation enabled the Comptroller’s Office to audit every school district in the state. It was a strong response to a series of criminal acts at a number of school districts. That legislation should be a model for a comprehensive pre-special education provider audit plan that lets the Comptroller’s auditors take a look at providers’ books.
“We’re moving forward with our reforms. We urge the Comptroller to put his army of auditors to work protecting funding for these special needs children. There’s too much at stake for the children in these programs to wait any longer.”