New Union Agreement a Victory for NYC Speech Therapists

The United Federation of Teachers (UFT), a teacher’s union in NYC boasting over 200,000 members, recently brokered an agreement with the state’s Department of Education (DOE) that will alleviate difficulties associated with the Special Education Student Information System (SESIS).

According to the UFT, SESIS was created in 2011 under the Bloomberg administration to monitor the number of students with disabilities requiring special education into an online data system. Although a seemingly beneficial tool, the new system quickly became bogged down with technical issues that lead to data inaccuracies

These data errors essentially prevented the DOE from seeking federal Medicaid reimbursement funds for students with disabilities. As a result, an alarming number of eligible students were denied special-education services available to them.

In a concerted effort to right the flawed SESIS, the UFT signed an official agreement with the DOE on November 18. The UFT website declares the deal aims to:

  • Ease the billing transaction from the DOE to Medicaid for speech therapy services provided by teachers holding licensed speech language pathology licenses
  • Provide speech teachers with greater compensation and security as licenses will accompany Medicaid claims (previously, speech teachers were not required apply their license for the purposes of Medicaid billing)
  • Allot extra time and better access to technology resources to help speech teachers work with SESIS more completely and effectively
  • Amend faulty components with the DOE’s computerized attendance tracking system
  • Ensure each and every speech teacher has a functional laptop computer or tablet that is internet accessible
  • Form a “special labor management” committee that supports speech teachers by readily handling conflicts relating to space, testing materials, time-limits for SESIS work completion, standardizing re-evaluation forms, and session records
  • Give speech teachers that hold a speech language pathology license a $5,000 salary differential as an incentive for earning and maintaining licensure

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