According to the office of State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli a Queens special ed provider has been overcharging the state for its services to the tune of $1.5 million [PDF]. An audit released today alleges that Bilingual SEIT & Preschool Inc., a Queens-based provider of special education services, went and added charges to the state for all sorts of fun stuff like salaries, vehicle leases and even things like cosmetics and children's furniture.
"Special education services are critical for thousands of children, and every tax dollar meant for them should be spent on them," DiNapoli said announcing the findings. "Sadly, my auditors have found that has not been the case at Bilingual SEIT & Preschool. As we have seen in several audits of special-education providers, taxpayers are footing the bill for expenses they shouldn’t have to cover, no-show jobs and other perks. This cannot continue."
Bilingual SEIT provides services to about 700 children with special needs between the ages of 3 and 5, and is paid by the NYC DOE using rates set by the state Education Department. According to the audit, there are lots of cases in which the contractor appears to have simply not complied with state guidelines. Y'know, by doing things like not actually being able to prove that its 26 employees worked hours it charged the state $233,368 for. Or charging $186,819 for rental expenses in buildings that had nothing at all to do with the program—one of which wasn't even fully built.
The Comptrollers findings were referred to the Queens County District Attorney’s Office and DiNapoli has issued recommendations to both the state and New York City education departments.