11 Feb 2015

American Samoa criticism of special ed staff spend

2:59 pm on 11 February 2015

An American Samoan special education official, Jeanette Vasai Tilo, says a major cost for the department is hiring overseas specialists on short term contracts.

This is given as one reason why 90 percent of the special education division's budget of nearly $6.3 million US dollars goes to personnel.

Members of the House education committee have questioned the personnel spending at a time when parents are complaining at a lack of services for their children.

Some parents have even complained directly to the department's federal grantor, the US Department of Education.

Pago Pago, American Samoa.

Pago Pago, American Samoa. Photo: AFP

Representative Larry Sanitoa says he receives complaints there are not enough materials and supplies and sometimes the lawmakers end up buying these themselves.

Assistant director Jeanette Vasai Tilo says the spending on personnel is money that does go to help special education students.

She says they are unable to hire full time professionals from off island but are contracting some who visit the territory for short periods.