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SPECIAL-ED PROVIDERS UNDER SCRUTINY

Greater oversight is crucial for these vital services

September 13, 2011

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THE BOSTON Globe raises some important points about the need for greater oversight of organizations that receive state funds in light of abuses uncovered at the Merrimack Special Education Collaborative (“Watchdogs need more power to probe state subcontractors,’’ Editorial, Sept. 6).

The Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives agrees. Our board of directors voted to suspend the Merrimack collaborative. We support the state auditor’s recommendations for improving oversight of educational collaboratives, and support giving the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education greater oversight authority and requiring financial reporting.

We believe that through increased oversight, we can strengthen the ability of educational collaboratives to continue providing the critical services that they currently bring to our state’s most vulnerable students.

Educational collaboratives fill an essential role in our state. By pooling resources, school districts can bring special needs students a level of education that many districts alone could not afford. This approach not only improves special needs education, but it saves taxpayers millions of dollars a year.

Without educational collaboratives, school districts and families who seek specialized special education programs would have fewer options in their communities, resulting in greater reliance on private schools, longer commutes for students, and higher special education costs.

Expanding oversight is a necessary step for strengthening education collaboratives, but the vital services these collaboratives provide should not be forgotten.
Stephen Theall

Executive director

Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives

Dedham