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SPECIAL-ED PROVIDERS UNDER SCRUTINY

Reports of audit cast too harsh a light on organization

September 13, 2011

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THE SOUTHEASTERN Massachusetts Educational Collaborative has been providing special education and disability services to students from the South Coast since 1975 and to adults since the mid-1980s. We are proud of the quality of services that we provide and the efficiencies and flexibility that we are able to offer to our member and surrounding school districts, as well as to the state agencies that contract for our services.

Recently, the collaborative was the subject of an audit by a team from the state auditor’s office. The audit lasted for approximately six months. We cooperated fully and openly. Unfortunately, early press releases and media reports (“Special needs agencies faulted,’’ Page A1, Aug. 31) failed to distinguish the auditor’s findings at two other agencies from the relatively minor procedural issues identified in the audit of our organization.

The collaborative will always be an open, transparent, efficient, and high-quality partnership between our member and surrounding school districts and the state agencies that purchase our services. There are no allegations of impropriety or inappropriate spending in our final report; however, the auditors did express opinions regarding changes in certain practices and procedures that should and will be considered. Establishing best practices is critical to our work, and we will continue to support the efforts of the Massachusetts Organization of Educational Collaboratives and the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Education to develop recommendations that will help all collaboratives operate more effectively.
Catherine S. Cooper

Executive director
Southeastern Massachusetts Educational Collaborative

New Bedford