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The Florida Statutes

The 2017 Florida Statutes

Title XLVIII
K-20 EDUCATION CODE
Chapter 1002
STUDENT AND PARENTAL RIGHTS AND EDUCATIONAL CHOICES
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F.S. 1002.91
1002.91 Investigations of fraud or overpayment; penalties.
(1) As used in this subsection, the term “fraud” means an intentional deception, omission, or misrepresentation made by a person with knowledge that the deception, omission, or misrepresentation may result in unauthorized benefit to that person or another person, or any aiding and abetting of the commission of such an act. The term includes any act that constitutes fraud under applicable federal or state law.
(2) To recover state, federal, and local matching funds, the office shall investigate early learning coalitions, recipients, and providers of the school readiness program and the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program to determine possible fraud or overpayment. If by its own inquiries, or as a result of a complaint, the office has reason to believe that a person, coalition, or provider has engaged in, or is engaging in, a fraudulent act, it shall investigate and determine whether any overpayment has occurred due to the fraudulent act. During the investigation, the office may examine all records, including electronic benefits transfer records, and make inquiry of all persons who may have knowledge as to any irregularity incidental to the disbursement of public moneys or other items or benefits authorizations to recipients.
(3) Based on the results of the investigation, the office may, in its discretion, refer the investigation to the Department of Financial Services for criminal investigation or refer the matter to the applicable coalition. Any suspected criminal violation identified by the office must be referred to the Department of Financial Services for criminal investigation.
(4) An early learning coalition may suspend or terminate a provider from participation in the school readiness program or the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program when it has reasonable cause to believe that the provider has committed fraud. The office shall adopt by rule appropriate due process procedures that the early learning coalition shall apply in suspending or terminating any provider, including the suspension or termination of payment. If suspended, the provider shall remain suspended until the completion of any investigation by the office, the Department of Financial Services, or any other state or federal agency, and any subsequent prosecution or other legal proceeding.
(5) If a school readiness program provider or a Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program provider, or an owner, officer, or director thereof, is convicted of, found guilty of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, public assistance fraud pursuant to s. 414.39, or is acting as the beneficial owner for someone who has been convicted of, found guilty of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, public assistance fraud pursuant to s. 414.39, the early learning coalition shall refrain from contracting with, or using the services of, that provider for a period of 5 years. In addition, the coalition shall refrain from contracting with, or using the services of, any provider that shares an officer or director with a provider that is convicted of, found guilty of, or pleads guilty or nolo contendere to, regardless of adjudication, public assistance fraud pursuant to s. 414.39 for a period of 5 years.
(6) If the investigation is not confidential or otherwise exempt from disclosure by law, the results of the investigation may be reported by the office to the appropriate legislative committees, the Department of Children and Families, and such other persons as the office deems appropriate.
(7) The early learning coalition may not contract with a school readiness program provider or a Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program provider who is on the United States Department of Agriculture National Disqualified List. In addition, the coalition may not contract with any provider that shares an officer or director with a provider that is on the United States Department of Agriculture National Disqualified List.
(8) Each early learning coalition shall adopt an anti-fraud plan addressing the detection and prevention of overpayments, abuse, and fraud relating to the provision of and payment for school readiness program and Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program services and submit the plan to the office for approval. The office shall adopt rules establishing criteria for the anti-fraud plan, including appropriate due process provisions. The anti-fraud plan must include, at a minimum:
(a) A written description or chart outlining the organizational structure of the plan’s personnel who are responsible for the investigation and reporting of possible overpayment, abuse, or fraud.
(b) A description of the plan’s procedures for detecting and investigating possible acts of fraud, abuse, or overpayment.
(c) A description of the plan’s procedures for the mandatory reporting of possible overpayment, abuse, or fraud to the Office of Inspector General within the office.
(d) A description of the plan’s program and procedures for educating and training personnel on how to detect and prevent fraud, abuse, and overpayment.
(e) A description of the plan’s procedures, including the appropriate due process provisions adopted by the office for suspending or terminating from the school readiness program or the Voluntary Prekindergarten Education Program a recipient or provider who the early learning coalition believes has committed fraud.
(9) A person who commits an act of fraud as defined in this section is subject to the penalties provided in s. 414.39(5)(a) and (b).
History.s. 17, ch. 2013-252; s. 6, ch. 2016-185.