New York Audit Finds Lax Oversight of Preschool Special Education
New York spends around $2 billion a year on preschool for children with disabilities, yet the State Education Department has not visited and audited a single contractor involved in the program since 2007, the state comptroller’s office has found.
Education officials instead rely largely on contractors’ accounting firms to certify that their clients bill the state honestly and accurately. Those certifications, however, are unreliable, and some of the most popular accounting firms used by preschool special education companies have been referred for investigation for negligence, the comptroller’s office said in an audit to be released on Tuesday.
“Children with disabilities and taxpayers are being ripped off and it has to stop,” said Thomas P. DiNapoli, the state comptroller. “The State Education Department has much work to do to straighten out the special education program. A new and more effective system of oversight is urgently needed, including the regular review and independent audit of these entities on a routine basis.”