Alright – so, PACER is a well known and well run oiled machine started by Paula Goldberg and others decades ago. The initial mission and vision were very touching then somewhere down the line Pacer became so powerful and so arrogant that they had to get all of the public funds for special education. Few months ago after my son was wrongly and unfairly suspended by the heartless Bloomington Public Schools I went to PACER for help. Other than Hassan who is amazing – I don’t really have prior history with them. Well – except when I was part of the Minnesota Autism Task force and the person who represented them Jody M was against Medicaid covering autism therapy for low income children with autism – not a typo.
Anyway, this was years ago and as we all know now – without Pacer and quite frankly any mainstream agency’s support, we were able to pass in the state and at the federal level a policy that allows low income children with autism and related disorders to have access to autism therapy such as ABA in Minnesota. So when I called them and I told them what Jefferson did. Over the phone they were so nice and said all of the right things. Their advocate told me that Bloomington was in the wrong and she would help. Then they met me and realized I was Idil the advocate who was relentlessly against them during the passing of DHS covering ABA therapy for children with low income Medicaid. Then the same advocate tells me “well – maybe I misunderstood the school and blah blah”. So, I contacted their director Paula G who was at the very least rude, sounded entitled and arrogant. Keep in mind Pacer takes public funds and their responsibility is to help ALL parents who have children with any disability. In other words, they are parent advocates not school advocates. Oh I almost forgot – Paula had Virginia with her on the phone whom I deeply admire and respect. Finally, I told Paula and Virginia – thanks but no thanks.
Then I tried to find a minority advocacy agency that could help. Do you know I could not find one – not one single agency of color has been funded to help communities of color parents whose children have disability. I know what the heck.
To make a long story short – I contacted the federal agency that funds states for special education which is HRSA then I contacted MDE. It turns out Pacer simply hogs majority of the federal and state funding to help parents with any and all special education needs. And, Pacer can not pick and choose who they help. In other words, they don’t have to like the parent or the child but they have to advocate for them. As someone who always advocates from policy perspective – I decide to gather some data then ask the simple question – why does Pacer hog public grants and what happens when they don’t meet parent’s needs. Apparently nothing happens. In fact, MDE does not even ask them any data to tell us how many children of color they helped and their satisfaction rate. No other agency even competes with them or is even aware of such funding. Can you believe this and they collected millions of public funds. Really what the heck? Sen. Hoffman – please don’t tell me you are still ok with this.
Some of their funding from HRSA click here.
Another funding that they hog click here.
Below is the other funding they hog form the U.S Department of Education via MDE, and they get this without even having a competition or anyone asking why? Can you imagine the level of elite entitlement.
- Can you tell me which grants MDE gives to Pacer?
PACER currently receives a Parent Training Grant and a subgrant that is part of Minnesota’s State Personnel Development Grant.
- When did it start, how often is it allocated?
The Parent Training Grant is a five-year grant that began in 2015, and the State Personnel Development Grant is a five-year grant that began in 2015.
- How much is it?
The Parent Training Grant provides PACER with $440,000 per year, and the State Personnel Development Grant provides PACER with $75,000 per year.
- What federal/state law describes this grant (link, etc).
The Parent Training Grant supplements the PTIC funding described at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/oseppic/index.html and the State Personnel Development Grant is described at https://www2.ed.gov/programs/osepsig/index.html.
- What rules if any MDE asks Pacer to follow in order to get this grant?
The Minnesota Department of Education follows government-wide policies and procedures in requests for proposals and awards of grants at https://mn.gov/admin/government/grants/.
- How many grants does MDE manage for special education from state and/or federal government?
MDE manages approximately 13 federal and state grants related to special education.
- How does MDE measure if Pacer met the qualifications of the grants they get?
PACER met eligibility requirements for a sole source grant as defined in Minnesota government-wide policy at https://mn.gov/admin/assets/grants_policy2012_08-07_tcm36-207122.pdf. In the case of the State Personnel Development Grant, PACER was a partner in Minnesota’s application for the grant.
- Do you have total number of minority autism families that have been helped by Pacer using this grant?
PACER is not required to report this data separately or disaggregated in this way.
- Remind me again why MDE offers and gives grants to Pacer without any competition?
PACER meets eligibility criteria as a sole source vendor for the Parent Training Grant according to government-wide policies and procedures in requests for proposals and awards of grants (https://mn.gov/admin/government/grants/). PACER was also an original partner in Minnesota’s application for the State Personnel Development Grant.
- Has Pacer ever collaborated with a minority advocacy agency for any MDE grant? If so, who did they collaborate with?
PACER was not required to have a formal partnership with an external minority advocacy organization for either the Parent Training Grant or State Personnel Development Grant. PACER demonstrated the capacity to collaborate with minority advocacy agencies in attaining stated goals of both grants.
So what does this all mean. In my humble little opinion, we need minority advocacy agencies to wake the heck up and stand up for our children because clearly Pacer isn’t. We need to apply for these grants, contact HRSA and others and compete with Pacer. We need to demand equality and fairness. What I really would like to know is what the heck do Minnesota Urban League and NAACP do exactly?
Above words do not reflect any candidate, agency or committee.
Idil – Autism Mom