It’s hard to believe it's spring. That means the celebrations for Better Speech and Hearing Month are around the corner and the school year is more than half over.
Much of this year has been devoted to our Medicaid agreement, so I have a lot to report since the February newsletter. Every aspect of the agreement and our other rights come from our chapter’s hard work and perseverance. Without the union’s advocacy, you would not see changes and improvements in your working conditions. Each month, we meet with the full Labor Management Committee on the Medicaid agreement, and we meet weekly with a smaller committee to resolve issues. Most member issues, i.e., name changes and an inability to enter information into the New York City Automated Personnel System, have been resolved with the DOE Office of Medicaid Operations and the Office of Related Services.
You’ve had many questions about Medicaid referrals and coding. Please review our PowerPoint presentation, Medicaid in Education on the UFT website to read answers to common questions. We are also working with the DOE to provide citywide staff development on writing session notes, codes and referrals.
Last, politics is often considered a dirty word. Members don’t want to get involved but now more than ever, I urge you to keep current by reading the NY Teacher, signing up for UFT texts and learning about what is happening throughout the country in education, health care, pension “reform” and immigration.
Changes to health care and immigration systems affect many of us, our students, our families and/or those we love. U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy Devos’ agenda could irrevocably harm public education as we know it. On the state level, a constitutional convention could destroy our pensions and benefits.
With the help and support of your executive board, we address your issues at our monthly meetings. All of our meetings this year have been well attended. We do need more volunteer liaisons from districts in Queens and District 75 in Brooklyn, Staten Island and the Bronx. If you can attend meetings and make announcements on behalf of the chapter, contact me at the chapter’s hotline, 1-212-598-7774. Be sure to check our website for all of our newsletters and news-briefs and other relevant chapter information as well.
Our next chapter meeting is on April 5 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the Queens UFT borough office, 97-77 Queens Blvd., Rego Park, New York, 11374. We’ll be discussing the new policy on make-ups and location of services plus reviewing the implementation of the Medicaid agreement. I invite all of you to attend, as always.
Mindy Karten Bornemann
Speech Improvement Chapter Leader
Good news on CTLE and CEU requirements
When the new state requirements were adopted last year, continuing education unit credits (CEUs) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) were not accepted by the state for Continuing Teacher and Leader Education hours as ASHA was not an approved provider. That meant that teachers of students with speech and language disabilities who held speech-language pathology licenses were required to do the state’s Continuing Teacher and Leader Education hours in addition to the ASHA continuing education units. That now has changed.
Chapter Leader Mindy Karten Bornemann urged the union to become involved. UFT Vice President Evelyn DeJesus and Nanette Sanchez-Rosario, UFT special representative for certification, worked with the State Education Department and the Board of Regents to ensure that TSSLDs who are ASHA members have options for relevant and discipline-specific continuing education course content.
As a result of their advocacy and that of ASHA, courses and programs delivered by ASHA-approved continuing education providers will now be accepted as meeting the CTLE requirements.
Allowing ASHA CEUs to meet CTLE requirements lifts a substantial burden from members who hold both a professional teaching certificate and a professional license. We are pleased that the Regents have been fair; we also thank Evelyn and Nannette for their efforts on our chapter’s behalf. We’d also like to thank the New York State Speech-Hearing-Language Association’s efforts for speaking with the Board of Regents and successfully advocating for this change.
For more information about CTLE requirements for teachers holding professional certificates, visit the UFT website.
Per Session Hours for Speech Teachers
As part of the Labor Management Agreement and at our urging, the DOE sent an email on Feb. 17 advising that you could use the 20 per session hours allocated to all speech teachers during the break to catch up on encounter attendance. Many of you are also using the time before and after school to work on IEPS and continue working on encounter attendance. (You cannot work on IEPs at home and get paid.)
Under the agreement, speech teachers who have a caseload of more than 30 students are entitled up to 40 hours of per session. For this year, the DOE will determine which speech teachers have the required number of students by looking at encounter attendance. If the speech teacher entered at least one certified encounter with a student (that involved providing service) between Jan. 17 and March 9, that student will count toward the speech teacher’s caseload.
So, speech teachers who enter at least one certified encounter for more than 30 different students between Jan. 17 and March 9 are entitled to 40 hours of per session, rather than 20.
To be clear, the certified encounter must have occurred between Jan. 17 and March 9. Encounter attendance data should be entered as close as possible to the service date, but for this purpose, the data must be entered by March 26.
Do your best to make entries for each of your students as soon as possible to ensure the DOE knows you are serving all the students in your caseload. Be mindful that the DOE is checking regularly to see progress on your attendance, so use your time wisely.
Differentials for Teachers with Speech-Language Pathology Licenses
The DOE reported more than 2,000 speech teachers with an SLP have been processed or staffed for the differential per the Medicaid agreement.
Approximately 1,200 SLPs have received their differentials and about 800 are either being processed or just were processed. DOE officials admitted that some members who enrolled in the city’s Automated Personnel System (NYCAPS) in December of January have not yet been paid due to unforeseen technical issues. The DOE is now manually processing these enrollments and has assured us that DOE staff is making every effort to get these members paid.
As per the agreement, members who are licensed speech-language pathologists become eligible for the differential once they have obtained and provided their NPI and Medicaid Billing or Non-Billing Identification Number to the DOE and affiliated this information to their record in NYCAP. The differential is programmed into their payroll beginning the month following the completion of the affiliation.
If SLPs can make a student referral in the system, the DOE can then bill through Medicaid. All the information you enter into NYCAPS is time stamped and can prove that you have successfully entered your information into it.
If you do not possess a current license or you have an issue with any of the three items, processing your differential may be delayed.
Begin the registration process immediately if you have not already done so. The DOE reported that approximately 500 speech teachers and speech evaluators with SLP licenses have not completed the registration process. Under the agreement, all speech teachers and evaluators with an SLP license must provide proof of their NYS SLP credential, their NPI number, and Medicaid Billing or Non-Billing Medicaid identification number and affiliate this information in NYCAPs.
The DOE will soon be reaching out to members who have not taken the required actions.
Please note: Some members have asked whether the DOE can backdate claims for Medicaid reimbursements. The DOE is not allowed to do that. Even if your Medicaid billing or non-billing identification number bears an earlier date, the DOE may only submit claims for services rendered after a referral has completed and entered into the child’s record.
If you have not received your salary differential or to find out the status of your differential, please contact the salary representatives at the UFT borough offices.
IEP-mandated services: Protections for speech therapy
The DOE may not assign speech teachers to duties that would prevent him or her from providing IEP-mandated services including coverages, scoring exams or proctoring, except in extraordinary circumstances. While the DOE had previously issued guidance to this effect, this directive was one of many working conditions issues memorialized in our speech Medicaid agreement.
Please contact us if you are given any assignment preventing you from serving your students. Remind your administration of the terms in our agreement, document the issue and then notify your speech supervisor and call the chapter’s speech hotline, 1-212-598-7774, as soon as possible. You may not refuse to do the coverage or the assignment.
Appropriate uses of your new Chromebooks
By now, most of our members have received new Chromebooks and cases. We are pleased because now you have the technology to enter your encounter attendance. The DOE tells us connectivity should be better since it has improved bandwidth. We will monitor the situation, of course. If you are having any issues with Chromebook connectivity, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
You should use your Chromebooks for their intended purpose: IEPS and encounter attendance. All work done on DOE computers can be monitored, so it is not a good idea to allow students to use them. If you have any questions, feel free to contact the hotline.
Shortage-area payments are on their way
Many members have experienced issues with shortage-area payments this year. Since the last newsletter in mid-February, UFT officers and staff have brought this issue to the chancellor's level. As a result, almost 1,100 members received payment and the DOE was working on about 300 additional payments.
The DOE, at our urging, is working on clearing up these payment issues. To clarify the grievance process, some chapter members have filed payroll grievances. Payroll is school-based although funds for shortage areas are not. Therefore, your principal will be summoned to this grievance. If the matter is resolved, you, as the grievant, can withdraw it.
If you want to find out the status of your shortage-area payment, please contact the salary representatives at the UFT borough offices.
Make-up sessions and location of services
Many of you have raised questions about your responsibility to make up missed sessions and how to document location of services on your students’ IEPs.
Unlike the policy on location of services which is well-settled but sometimes poorly implemented, the make-up issue came to the forefront last year as a result of special education quality assurance reviews conducted by the New York State Education Department.
At our request, the DOE Office of Related Services provided guidance to supervisors on these two issues. As reflected in this guidance, you cannot be required to give up your contractual rights, e.g., your duty-free lunch or preparation period to provide make-up services, and the provision of the make-up must be instructionally appropriate for the student and consistent with the student’s IEP.
If you have questions or concerns, you should contact your supervisor.
The following information on make-ups and location of service with regard to occupational therapists, physical therapists and speech providers was sent to supervisors on March 14.
Make-Up OT/PT/SP Services
1) The DOE is obligated to comply with any NYSED formal findings pertaining to make-up sessions. However, certain labor and instructional factors must be considered in determining how to deliver make-up services.
2) The DOE OT/PT/SP providers are not required to provide more than eight direct treatment sessions per school day as per the UFT contract.
- Speech providers assigned to middle schools or high schools are not required to provide more than five 45-minute direct treatments sessions per school day.
3) Make-up sessions to be provided only as the providers schedule allows.
4) Make-up sessions to be provided in a manner instructionally appropriate for the individual student.
5) Make-up sessions to be provided in compliance with student IEP recommendations.
6) In the event neither a DOE provider nor agency provider can provide identified make-up sessions, related service authorizations, also known as RSAs, will be issued in accordance with the DOE cascade of services. Providers should reach out to their OT/PT/SP supervisor if any student is identified as requiring make-up services which they can’t provide.
Location of Service
1) Location of services should be commensurate with IEP annual goals; service should be recommended in a location that supports IEP goal attainment.
2) The decision as to the location of service should be made in consideration of the least restrictive environment.
3) The location where services will be provided needs to be stated specifically enough so the recommendations are clear.
The following text is excerpted from the NYSED Guide to Quality Individualized Education Program (IEP) Development and Implementation.
The determination of location for the special education services may influence decisions about the nature and amount of these services and when they should be provided.
For example, an appropriate location for the related service of occupational therapy may be the English class during which the student may have opportunities for writing activities.
The location where services will be provided needs to be stated specifically enough so the Committee’s recommendations regarding location of services is clear, e.g., English class; gymnasium; separate therapy room; cafeteria; playground; community; special class; general education summer school academic program.
It is not sufficient to simply state within general education classes or outside general education classes. Nor is it sufficient to indicate total school environment, natural learning environment or provider’s discretion as service location. Providers must enter specific location(s) where services will take place.
If the IEP team determines that services should be provided in a “separate location,” specific location(s) must be included in the location section of the IEP.
Service recommendations should have a focus on providing support while continuing to build independence.