Saturday, June 18, 2011

Yet Another DOE Consultant That Waste's Money On A Special Education ProgramThat Does Not Work Right And Has Cost $79 Million Dollars And Counting.

In a time of severe budget cutbacks and 4,100 teacher layoffs, the Department Of Education (DOE) just keeps on wasting precious dollars on programs, consultants, and technology that either does not work right or is a complete waste of money. In fact, NY1 reports on the outrageous $900 million dollar technology budget in this time of massive layoffs. Now we have another Tweed boondoggle, it is a computerized Special Education program called the Special Education Student Identification System (SESIS). This complicated and difficult computerized program is hard to understand and has been universally panned by the frustrated Special Education teachers who have experienced numerous bugs and at times have lost their entire data input as the system resets or erases the information entered.

The SESIS program was developed by a consultant, the Virgina-based MAXIMUS corporation and has so far cost the DOE a mind-boggling $79 million dollars since the contract was signed in 2009. For the people who are forced to work with this system it appears it was developed for an office-based environment with high-speed internet service and not the schools it was supposed to serve. The user complaints are many. The major problems with SESIS are:
  • Hard to understand.
  • Lack of training for this complicated program.
  • Time-consuming with this difficult program.
  • Inadequate bandwidth to get into and work with the program in the schools.
  • Unhelpful, "help line" the makes it nearly impossible to get answers during school time.
While computerization is usually a good thing, in this case there are apparently perfectly good computer programs that other school districts in the State use. They are simple to use, easy to understand, and most importantly cost $5 million dollars not $79 million dollars to implement.

Julie Cavanaugh, a Special Education teacher was quoted saying about SESIS "It's not functioning properly, there is a serious design flaw and it takes me twice as long to create records for my students". Her and all other complaints were ignored by the DOE until SESIS was used for the Special Education Kindergarten Placements. Now it seems all the complaints have come home to roost as Tweed missed their June 13th deadline to place up to 2,500 Kindergartners in slots. This, despite the loads of overtime, yes, overtime, by using emergency funds from the schools to get teachers to work weekends and evenings to find seats for the incoming Special Education Kindergartners. Despite, the effort, the DOE failed to meet the deadline and Kindergartners not placed can not go to expensive private schools where tuition can be as high as $30,000 a year. The SESIS problem has become so bad that even the Chancellor, Dennis Walcott, blames SESIS for the goof and the massive amount of money associated with its failed implementation.

The question is will heads roll at Tweed for the $79 million dollar and counting SESIS boondoggle and let Special Education teachers find an easier way to computerize the Special Education IEP program. If I was a betting man there will be no heads rolling at Tweed and SESIS is here to stay. Remember it is "Tweed first and children last...Always.


reality-based educator said...

MAXIMUS was involved in Medicaid fraud back in 2007.

After your post this morning, Chaz, I googled the company and came up with the MAXIMUS press release hailing the DOE contract (and Klein quoted in the same press release also hailing the contract) and the Medicaid fraud.

It looks like Bloomberg again hired a crooked company to provide computer services, conducted little oversight on them, paid millions to them and got less than advertised.

He sucks. He really does. And Klein belongs in jail. I wonder how much he is getting under the table?

zulma said...

DoE's new motto: Consultants First, Children Don't Exist.

Chaz said...

Thanks RBE for the info. This just makes it even worse.

Anonymous said...

Chaz, why are you surprised of the waste and corruption by Bloomberg? It is a business model and it has been American way for as long as I can remember.

Look around the world from old Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, to middle east and Africa, which puppet was or is not propped up by US money and corruption for him to suppress his own people. It is only relative new to this country as it is just starting to be duplicate the same model within the US. Bad habit always catches up.

Bloomberg sends his cronies to do the dirty job, but they all want to be paid and very handsomely p, after all they are doing some low and risk work with many uncertainties involved.

Anonymous said...

Bloomberg,Klein,Tisch...they foster certain sterotypes...

Same Sit Different Desk said...

The other day, a few colleagues and myself were busy for a few hours making out the page that SESIS program left out of the IEP's totally.....a page describing the student's summer school accommodations. I guess they never looked at the old IEP Pro program that was more teacher-constructed and required actual writing. SESIS is a scam and a joke. No heads will teachers were involved so that's a given. Bloomberg is a crook!!!