Part II: Jessica Pers
Thank you, Rick. I’m Jessica Pers of Heller Ehrman in San Francisco. Heller Ehrman was counsel for Microsoft in the settlement of the lawsuit which developed the program you’ve heard about this morning. And I am very happy to be here and happy to be representing Microsoft in this program. Microsoft is very excited about being part of this program that will be available to California students to increase their computer literacy and their computer mastery over the coming years. I’m going to start by providing some additional information on some of the topics that Rick has already touched upon. I hope that this isn’t too repetitive, and I really hope that it clarifies some questions and helps you, the school districts, in applying for voucher reimbursement easily and effectively. The goal of my section of this presentation is to help you make sure that your reimbursement requests are approved. The next section will do that in even greater detail. I’m going to focus primarily on the services portion, the IT support services and the professional development services that Rick Grossman talked about in his presentation.
There are three requirements for obtaining reimbursement for IT and professional development services. The first is that the provider must be approved and I’ll tell you a little bit more about that in a minute.
Slide 19: IT and Professional Development Services:
- Approved provider.
- Eligible services.
- General Purpose Vouchers.
The second is that the services must be eligible for reimbursement. Not all services are, so the particular services that are provided must be ones that are eligible for reimbursement under this program. And the third one that you already heard about is that IT and professional development support services must be paid for by General Purpose Vouchers, not Software Vouchers. That’s the third requirement. So let’s go through those specifically.
The first is that the provider must be approved. What does this mean? It means that there is something called an Approved Provider List that the California Department of Education has put together. And a vendor could be an Approved Provider and a district. The district itself could be an Approved Provider for IT services or professional development services. The CDE website has a list of Approved Providers. You can find it at the website that’s referenced on the slide.
Slide 20: Approved Provider List
- Platform neutral.
- High-quality professional development or IT services.
- Vendors and districts may apply.
- Listed on CDE Web site.
That’s the place to go if you have any questions about whether an IT or a professional development services provider has been approved for reimbursement using General Purpose Vouchers under this program.
The Approved Provider List is designed, as Rick said, to be platform neutral. What does that mean? That means that providers can service products using any computer platform, any operating system. It can be a Microsoft operating system, such as Windows. It can be a non-Microsoft operating system as well. There are enough providers on that approved list to be able to service and help you with any computer platform.
The second is that it has to be high-quality professional development or IT services. The district has made sure of this by requirements for the people getting on the approved list. And there will be opportunities throughout this program for the California Department of Education to audit, to make sure that the services provided are of the quality necessary to make the products and services obtained through this program work well and to work effectively for California students. So, as I said, both vendors and districts can be Approved Providers of services. You can find out if they are by looking at the website.
The second is, and again, this was touched upon before, that the services have to be eligible for reimbursement. And this means, for IT support services, that those services primarily involve maintenance of hardware procured through this program or the installation and maintenance of software procured through this program.
Slide 21: IT Support Services
- Maintenance of hardware procured through this program.
- Installation and maintenance of software procured through this program.
So, if you use vouchers to obtain hardware or software and you need IT support to get those programs and those products running and working for your students and you hire someone to work on that, you can have those costs reimbursed through this voucher program. Again, the important point to remember is that these services have to primarily involve the hardware and software procured through the voucher program.
With respect to professional development services, Rick Grossman listed the kinds of services, the kinds of professional development that are covered by these vouchers. These are shorthand for the more detailed information he gave you.
Slide 22: Professional Development
Solely Directed at:
- Leadership development
- Curriculum and instructional strategies.
- Software integration.
- Training on hardware or software acquired with vouchers.
- Must incorporate the use of education technology.
They are solely directed at leadership development, at curriculum and instructional strategies, at software integration, or training on the hardware and software acquired using vouchers. The idea for these professional development services being reimbursed is they incorporate the use of educational technology in the instructional program. The idea is to encourage teachers in your districts to get professional development services to increase their knowledge and their abilities to bring computers, technology and the new technologies that will develop to their students through the use of products and services purchased through this program. So, if teachers need help in being able to incorporate computers and computer software into their educational program, those services can be covered by professional development vouchers and can be reimbursed under this program.
How do products get approved and how do services get approved? This is a very important point and one where, not only am I going to give you some information, but I’m going to caution you a bit. Only schools and districts can apply to the Settlement Claims Administrator to find out if a program or a product is eligible for reimbursement. Vendors cannot, cannot call the Settlement Claims Administrator to find out if their product and their service is covered. So, if a vendor tells you they have been approved by the Settlement Claims Administrator, don’t trust that statement.
Slide 23: Approval of Products and Services
- By the Settlement Claims Administrator.
- Only schools and districts may inquire.
- Vendors cannot inquire.
It’s up to the school district or the school to find out if a particular product or a particular service is eligible for reimbursement.
Slide 24: Vendor Marketing
- Do not rely on vendor statements.
- About product approval.
- About voucher program.
- Direct questions to the Settlement Claims Administrator.
There’s an important point here. I spoke before about the Approved Provider List. A vendor and a school district can be on the Approved Provider List. That means they are eligible for being considered for reimbursement. It does not mean that a vendor that is an Approved Provider of IT services or professional development services is automatically approved for all the products they use. The products need to be eligible and be approved separately. So if a vendor tells you that they have a program, an IT support program or a professional development program, and that all of the products that you need to purchase for that program are eligible for purchase and reimbursement through the IT support or professional development vouchers, that is incorrect. The products that you purchase need to be approved, need to be eligible products, and need to be purchased as products and not as services. This is somewhat confusing, I understand, but it’s very important and the way you can make sure that you don’t get into trouble is to call the Settlement Claims Administrator if you have any questions about whether what you are being told is correct or approved.
It’s also important, we’ve heard even at the beginning of this program that some vendors are saying that their services are really software or that software is really a service, they are providing a service by selling software. That is also not true. Software needs to be purchased using Specific Category Software Vouchers or, under some circumstances, General Purpose Vouchers. Services are exactly what we call them. They are services provided by vendors or districts to aid the integration and use of hardware and software as set forth earlier by Rick Grossman and in the earlier slide. So please, I just caution all of you to be very alert to vendor claims that they have approved services or approved products and to always, if you are the least bit uncomfortable, call the Settlement Claims Administrator, and certainly do so before you agree to purchase anything which may eventually not be covered and not be reimbursable under this program. We want to make sure, as much as possible, that products and services are purchased when the district knows they will have no problem getting reimbursed as long as they provide the proper documentation that’s needed for reimbursement.
Slide 24: see slide above
This just summarizes what I mentioned about vendor marketing. Don’t rely solely on vendor statements about a product being approved or about the voucher program in general. Direct your questions to the Settlement Claims Administrator, and these slides and that website will be on a great deal of information you receive as this program progresses.
What can happen if you rely on a vendor to tell you about a product or service to say that it’s covered? Well, the worst thing that can happen to the school district is that you will front some money to buy something and it not be reimbursed. That is something you should be very careful to avoid. For the vendor there are other consequences.
Slide 25: Possible Consequences for Vendor Misrepresentations
- Legal liability.
- Removal from Approved Providers List.
- Disapproval of Products and Services.
There could be legal liability if a vendor misrepresents either their ability to sell a product or service or that it is approved. A vendor that’s found to be misrepresenting its place in the program or its products and services will be removed from the Approved Provider List and their products and services can be disapproved and they can be told that they can no longer participate in this program with any services or products. So there are consequences to vendors for misrepresenting the program and there is a consequence to the schools and school districts if they rely on vendor statements without doing their homework— something that all of you should know about—and asking the Settlement Claims Administrator if the statement is correct. Please be careful and be smart on this issue.
Now that you’ve learned about the eligible products and eligible services, both IT services and professional development services, I’m going to start talking about how you get reimbursed under the voucher program. I’m going to begin that topic and Norm Swett, the Settlement Claims Administrator, will provide additional and much more specific detail about the voucher redemption process, but let’s start that right now.
First, I just want to remind you that this program will run over the next six years and that voucher redemptions will be made through September 2012. You will need two different pieces of paper, two different kinds of documentation.
Slide 26: Required Documentation for Product and Services Purchases
- Completed Original Voucher Redemption Form.
- Original proof of purchase.
- For purchases from vendors, the original itemized receipt or invoice.
- For services provided through the district, the original spreadsheet, worksheet or internal service order.
One is the Voucher Redemption Form itself which needs to be sent back to the Settlement Claims Administrator in its original form, the original Voucher Redemption Form, and an original proof of purchase. The proof of purchase is different depending on whether it’s from a vendor or from services provided by the district. For services or products from vendors, you need an original itemized receipt or invoice, and for services provided through the district, an original spreadsheet, worksheet or an internal service order that would show the amount you are seeking reimbursement for.
Slide 27: Voucher Redemption Process
- Districts must submit an original Voucher Redemption Form for reimbursement of purchases made for eligible schools.
The district first has to submit the original redemption form for reimbursement for any purchases, either products or services.
Slide 28: Voucher Redemption Form
- Page 1 of the Voucher Redemption Form contains the balance statement for the district.
- Page 2 is separated into sections for Product Purchases and IT Support Services and Professional Development (PD) Services Purchases.
The Voucher Redemption Form is a two page form, and I’m going to show that to you in a moment.
Slide 29: Voucher Redemption Form
- (Image of Page 1 of the Voucher Redemption Form.)
This is the Voucher Redemption Form. It may be hard to read, and we’ll look at it in more detail in a second. It is made out to each school district and it has a balance statement at the top of the form. That tells you, it starts off with the amount of money available to a particular district under this program and it shows what reimbursements have been made from that amount and leaves you with the total remaining for reimbursement.
This is the balance statement.
Slide 30: Page 1: Balance Statement
- (Image of the Balance Statement Page.)
It gives you a little more specific, or a larger example of the top of that form which would tell you the beginning balance, which is the first line, a payment at a certain date showing you a remaining balance divided between General Purpose Vouchers and Software Vouchers, and then the next payment, and then a current balance at the bottom. The current balance will be shown for both General Purpose Vouchers, GPV on this document, and for Software Vouchers, SV on this balance statement.
Slide 31: Page 2: Product Purchases
- (Image of the Product Purchase section on Page 2 of the Voucher Redemption Form.)
Page 2, the blue form, or the form that’s got product purchases highlighted in blue, is the form that needs to be submitted for purchases of products that you are trying to get reimbursement for under the program. So page 2 has two forms on it. The blue form is for product purchases, the pink form is for IT support and professional development services.
Slide 32: Page 2: IT and PD Services Purchases
- (Image of the IT and PD Services Purchase section on Page 2 of the Voucher Redemption Form.)
The things that you are required to provide are different for services and products. Both have to be signed by an authorized representative of the district and returned to the Settlement Claims Administrator for reimbursement. And I will now introduce Norm Swett, who I mentioned before, who is the Settlement Claims Administrator, and will walk through the more specific requirements of the voucher redemption process and the forms I’ve just discussed.