Audit: DOE missing out on $10M in special-ed reimbursements

TRENTON – The state and some school districts are missing out on more than $10 million annually, according to a New Jersey audit of the Department of Education.

A New Jersey State Auditor report released Tuesday found DOE school districts that failed to capitalize on the Special Education Medicaid Initiative, SEMI, prevented millions of dollars in federal reimbursements from hitting district and state coffers.

Under the SEMI program, the federal government reimburses the state 50 percent of approved Medicaid claims for certain health-related services for students. The state retains 65 percent of the total reimbursement and distributes the remaining 35 percent to the districts.

The audit found 63 school districts failed to achieve 90 percent return rates of parental consent forms for all SEMI-eligible students over the course of fiscal years 2011 through 2012.

“In Fiscal Year 2012, there were 207 districts with more than 40 SEMI-eligible students participating in the program and 144 of those met the 90 percent criteria,” the report reads.

“If the other 63 districts had achieved 90 percent criteria while collecting revenue at a similar rate, the districts could have generated $6.5 million in additional SEMI revenues,” it continues. “Applying similar criteria to Fiscal Year 2011, we estimate that participating districts could have generated an additional $3.2 million.”

The audit indicates the DOE is considering recommended changes to the program’s waiver issuance in order to take full advantage of the federal dollars.

Audit: DOE missing out on $10M in special-ed reimbursements