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.
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.