The New York Legislature is trying to tighten controls over the state’s preschool program for disabled children, the cost of which has soared to $2 billion annually.
The State Senate and Assembly unanimously approved a bill last week that would require audits of every special-education prekindergarten contractor by 2018.
The bill was proposed by State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli after a series of audits by his office and articles in The New York Times highlighted soaring costs, poor regulation and other problems in the state’s special-education prekindergarten system, the most expensive in the country. Contractors have charged taxpayers for overseas vacations, spa trips, jewelry, groceries and home renovations; hired relatives for no-show jobs; given themselves exorbitant salaries and perks like luxury cars; billed for services they never provided; or lived in other parts of the country and rarely showed up for work, the audits and reports found.
The Times revealed how some prekindergarten evaluators appeared to be distorting their assessments of children to justify expensive instruction provided by their own companies.