Minnesota Attorney General Mike Hatch has confirmed plans to investigate whether the state’s largest program for children with autism may have misspent grant money from the Minnesota Department of Human Services.
According to articles in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, psychologists at the Minnesota Autism Center in Minneapolis say they were pressured into providing unnecessary services for the children of two of the center’s board members.
Among the services the center provides is intensive behavioral therapy geared toward preschool children with autism. The center has 88 clients and a waiting list of more than 100.
Psychologists at the center said in a lawsuit that was later settled that board Chairman Ron Carey and board member Kathryn Marshall received services for their children, who are enrolled in private schools and older than preschool age, that are freely available to children in public schools.
In one case, a therapist who accompanied Ms. Marshall on a family trip to Disney World in 2004 billed the center for some services provided to her child during that week, according to the lawsuit. Mr. Carey and Ms. Marshall defended the charges in the newspaper and the lawsuit, saying they were proper and approved by the state. They said they did not overstep their bounds as board members.