Important disclaimer to this artice, I changed the title for it on August 21st, 2014. CPG is not buying special education data, so I changed that aspect of the title. The rest of the article is speculative, but led me to the even more atrocious findings I had in my article from today, August 21st.
Being a blogger geek that checks finances for everything, I always get excited when Delaware Online Checkbook updates their website. It used to be quarterly, but now they do it monthly. Around the 15th of the month, I get to see where the money is going at the DOE and what the schools are spending money on. I can usually find some interesting items, as well as some ones that raise my eyebrows. The amounts below are just for the month of July, the first of the new fiscal year.
The first thing I look for is the residential treatment centers. Especially the out of state ones the ICT group sends severely complex special needs kids to, because our state doesn’t have the resources (see Delaware DOE: Eye of the Hurricane Part 2).
Advoserv (in Delaware): $407,198.34
Benedictine (in Maryland): $79,200.56
Devereux (in Pennsylvania): $463,743.12
High Road School: $329,669.00
Woods Services (Pennsylvania): $116,938.00
Grand Total for July 2014: $1,396,749.02
Now keep in mind, the Delaware DOE pays only 70% of these costs, while the public school districts pay 30%, so it is actually a much higher amount that taxpayers doll out for these out of state services for Delaware’s youth.
The rest of the Exceptional Children Group payments were typical. Except for this one: Public Consulting Group Inc. Who are they? As per their website:
“PCG Education consulting solutions help schools, school districts, and state departments of education to promote student success, improve programs and processes, and optimize financial resources. Our technology solutions are used by educators to analyze and manage state and district data and student performance information. PCG Education solutions are supported by 25 years of management consulting experience and significant K-12 educational domain expertise. We provide educators with the tools and skills to use data to make effective instructional decisions.”
So what in the world does that have to do with the Exceptional Children Group? They deal with special education. But wait, PCG does have an area that deals with special education! More information from their website:
“PCG Education is a leading provider of comprehensive, Web-based student case management solutions for special education. When combined with the expertise of PCG Education professionals who understand education, educational organizations, and how to effectively guide a school district through a comprehensive implementation process, our systems can help districts successfully plan, implement, and manage students’ individualized education plans (IEPs) in a manner that increases teachers’ time with students and helps districts to achieve federal and state compliance.
PCG Education is a leading national provider of data solutions that promote student success. We combine 25 years of K – 12 consulting expertise with innovative technology and research-based methodology to help educators
make informed decisions that lead to improved student outcomes. Our innovative special education management tools and services help districts plan, implement, and manage students’ individualized education plans (IEP) and meet state/federal reporting requirements. PCG Education applications are used in more U.S. schools than any other online special education case management tools.”
It gets more interesting under system features:
- Compliance and event alerts with flexible parameters.
- ‘Virtual’ file cabinet to store each student’s special education-related documents.
- Teacher credential tracking.
- Intuitive, built-in compliance measures.
- EasyFax™, an option that gives districts the ability to easily capture and convert paper documents to paperless format.
- PCG Notifier, a Web-based communication tool that schedules automated or text or voicemail alerts through EasyIEP™ and other EdPlan™ modules.
- State-of-the-art advanced reporting and data analysis capabilities.
- Recording, tracking, and management tools to readily produce IEP Summary of Performance documents.
- Workflow support and centralized documentation for Child Find activities.
- Transfer of records between districts
- Integration of student data with district and state SIS.
- Comprehensive training and support services.
I have taken the liberty of putting the parts I find unbelievable in bold.
A “virtual” file cabinet: That means special education files are being put in another company’s files. I don’t recall ever signing off on my son’s special education records being put in a company setting. I don’t recall ever being notified on that.
“Teacher Credential Tracking”: Don’t we already have that with DEEDs on the Delaware DOE website?
“Intuitive, built-in compliance measures”: Compliance for what? An intuitive computer system based on an Individualized Education Plan? Does that computer system know my son? I don’t recall him ever mentioning his intuitive friend.
“State-of-the-art advanced reporting and data analysis capabilities”: We know the Delaware DOE loves doing their “data dives”. Is this how they do it? I love that my son is being data analyzed! Makes me so happy….not!
“Recording, tracking and management tools to readily produce IEP Summary of Performance documents”: Is this the new system they were talking about at my son’s IEP meetings last Spring?
“Transfer of records between districts”: So not only can they see my son’s records currently, they can see ALL his records!
“Integration of student data with district and state SIS”: SIS stands for School Information System. I guess someone has to coordinate all that data between the districts and the state!
“Comprehensive training and support services”: Training for who? The DOE Exceptional Children Group? I hope it’s just on computer systems. I would hate to think a company is training our state specialists on special education.
Special needs parents: Were you aware your special needs children’s information has been sold to an outside company? I didn’t, until now. I think Mary Ann Mieczkowski and the Delaware DOE have some explaining to do….
If you can’t wait for Mary Ann (she is really nice by the way), you can read all about PCG here: http://www.publicconsultinggroup.com/index.html
In the meantime, since Mary Ann told me she doesn’t read blogs (you really should, you get much more information here than in other state media), I’m going to email her this and ask what services PCG provides for the Exceptional Children Group and why I wasn’t notified my son’s personal information is being stored with another company!
To be continued I’m sure!
Quick Update: I just checked PCG as a vendor for the whole state, and guess who else uses them: Department of Health And Social Services! And the areas of that department that utilize PCG are Visually Impaired Services, State Service Centers, Long-Term Care Residents Protection, Management Services, Services of Aging and Adult Physical Disabilities, Social Services, Medicaid and Medical Assistance, and Community Health. Update on the update: Also Services for Children, Youth & Families: Fiscal Services division. They must have a lot of medical and educational data on a lot of Delaware citizens!
6 thoughts on “Exceptional Children Group at Delaware DOE: What Do They Spend Money On? And What Company May Be Using Special Education Data?”
Reblogged this on Kilroy's delaware.
Just a word of caution: Is there any evidence Delaware has transferred data to this system, or is even paying for the capabilities you described?
Even if we have, that is the way of the information world now. Most enterprise systems make use of external providers in some way. Banks, insurance companies, you name it. As a technical writer I have been involved with the development of several of these systems. The reason is that the rules and reporting requirements have become so complex, that an organization like a bank, an insurance company, or a state does not have the resources or the expertise to build a system to manage their portfolio. IT is not there core expertise. And the costs of non-compliance are high and getting higher. That is why organizations are turning to specialized systems to correctly handle even their core data. The days are gone when they can leave it to clerical staff using green screen terminals and manila folders to run the business. There is a reason why the data has to be transferred – the external system needs to act on the data to automate and manage all the steps now required in order to service the account. That explanation is oversimplified, but it gets wonkier from there.
Your concerns are valid though, and oversight has not kept up with ensuring that data transferred to other providers is not misused. Misuse of data needs to have serious penalties attached, possibly criminal, and oversight needs to be very tight.
Unfortunately, it is a brave new world for data, and just leaving the data in its inadequate home system is often a worse solution that would lead to even more non-compliance right here in Delaware.
You could be right Mike. But the more I looked into what this company does with special education, the more weirded out I got. I will know more if the state grants my FOIA request.
I did a follow-up tonight Mike. I can’t find any existence of a relationship between the Exceptional Children Group at the DOE and this company anywhere!