State to pay U.S. Education Department $4.5M settlement

State officials have settled a longstanding lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Education following charges that the State Department of Education “submitted false claims for payment” by misrepresenting the number of children that qualified for special education services.

The settlement requires the state pay the federal government $4.5 million.

The settlement resolves overpayment by the federal government to the state for the cost of providing special education services for children of migrant workers who are challenged by frequent disruptions in schooling. A spokeswoman for the state’s Attorney General office, which negotiated the settlement, said the federal payments were used for education services, but some of the children were not eligible for the program.

“Our Office believes the settlement is a fair resolution in the best interest of the state,” said Spokeswoman Susan Kinsman.

Without a settlement, the state could have been required by a judge to repay $15.9 million if it was determined the state was at fault, Attorney General George Jepsen told the Education Committee earlier this month.

Two resolutions await legislative action to finalize the agreement. Settlements that exceed $2.5 million need to be approved by the General Assembly.