Greenwich parent raises concerns about special education study | #Education

GREENWICH — As the Greenwich school district awaits the results of a long-planned audit of its special education services, a local parent is alleging impropriety on the part of Public Consulting Group, the educational firm hired to complete that study.

Jennifer Kutai, an outspoken special education parent and co-founder of the parents’ group Speducated Greenwich, questioned the independence of the audit when she spoke during public comment at the Board of Education’s regular meeting on Thursday night.

In her comments, Kutai surfaced allegations that she said originated from an anonymous email she received in the winter, purportedly from a Greenwich Public Schools employee. Kutai said she was also provided with information by a state representative and a member of a the state department of education in Delaware, where PCG has also worked.

Kutai — who was a parent member of the steering committee for a separate special education review, done by the firm Key2Ed — said that students involved in the audit were observed with parental consent and that the results of interviews with parents conducted by the firm were shared with school administrators, according to the email. She said that called into question the independence of the audit.

“As a parent who sat on the last review done by Key2Ed, I voiced my concern about this review leaving parents almost entirely out of the process,” Kutai told the board. “With this additional information, you have a significant burden to prove that the information provided by PCG has integrity. I venture to guess that the BOE knew about at least some of these allegations and chose not to inform parents and taxpayers.”

Kutai also referenced a 2017 federal investigation centering on work PCG did in New Jersey. According to the investigation, the company falsified school employees’ time cards to increase Medicaid reimbursements. As a result, investigators recommended that state education officials pay back $300 million in Medicaid reimbursements.

Superintendent of Schools Toni Jones briefly, addressed Kutai’s comments at Thursday’s meeting. She noted that at least one member of the audit’s steering committee — which has two board members and two members of the public — received the anonymous email referenced by Kutai.

“I want to assure the public we absolutely followed that up with PCG and had a discussion,” Jones said. “We don’t even normally address anonymous emails, but we knew this was important.”

Jones added that the division of the company involved in the New Jersey Medicaid incident is separate from the one overseeing the special education audit. And she denied that any results from a survey administered by PCG to parents were shared with administrators.

“There was a reference to a survey,” Jones said. “PCG put out a survey and staff have had no access to that whatsoever. I have no idea, and neither does the committee. We have not seen any of that right now.”

PCG did not respond to a request for comment Friday, but when contacted by the Greenwich Time in February about its past dealings in New Jersey, said: “As the largest U.S. provider of school-based Medicaid claiming services, PCG has an excellent record of compliance and positive results for thousands of school districts and several states. PCG maintains a positive working relationship with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Audits are a routine part of this work and are almost always resolved collaboratively.”

The firm also added that the state of New Jersey, as well as PCG, have rebutted the auditors’ claims. PCG continues to work with the state of New Jersey and was also recently contracted by the state of Connecticut to develop a new statewide special education data management system.

PCG has also worked previously worked with Greenwich Public Schools. In 2014, the Board of Education voted to approve a contract with PCG to help draft the district’s strategic plan.


justin.papp@scni.com; @justinjpapp1; 203-842-2586



Source by [author_name]