Employees vs Contract

Districts considering hiring their own physical and occupational therapists as employees of their district may wish to consider the following:

1. Recruitment of qualified therapists with advanced training and experience in school based pediatric practice is an extreme challenge and requires ongoing efforts and resources.

2. Therapists require multiple standardized assessment test kits and therapy supplies. These materials cost many thousands of dollars and need to be updated as new editions become available. These materials are presently provided by the contracting agency, and would be an additional and ongoing expense to the school district

3. Providing coverage during absences and extended leaves is an extreme challenge and may interfere with IEP compliance.

4. Performance evaluations and supervision of therapists, who are medical professionals, can be a challenge for school administrators. There are additional requirements and standards of care for medical professionals that are beyond those required in the educational environment.

5. There may be a significant increase in the cost of Professional Liability Insurance and Workman’s Compensation Insurance premiums to the district when they employ medical professionals due to the increased risk exposure that their services pose to the district

6. Obtaining medical prescriptions, release of information permissions, and maintenance of clinical, Medicaid and educational records is time consuming and will require additional resources by the school district.

7. Occupational, physical therapy and speech and language pathology services from an outside contract agency are provided and managed by a single source.

8. When using a contract agency, the district only purchases the amount of services that they need. Employees must be paid their negotiated salary regardless of the number of students on their caseloads. Contracting for professional services also relieves school districts from providing employee benefits, tenure, pension plans, and complying with state and federal employment regulations

9. According to the most recent American Physical Therapy Association survey, the 2008 median gross income of physical therapists in the Northeast Region was $80,000 + benefits

10. Race to the Top initiatives may result in unexpected salary increases for school employees. Lifespan Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Pathology Services, PLLC currently employs 26 therapists, 3 psychologists, an office manager, and 3 support staff. We are able to provide uninterrupted coverage during maternity leaves or other unexpected absences.

All employees receive extensive and ongoing training in the specialized area of school based practice. They receive annual OSHA, FERPA, CPR with AED, and HIPPA Confidentiality Training, and have individual budgets to attend continuing education conferences.

All therapists have attended the mandatory Medicaid training held in Syracuse.

We perform reference checks and criminal background checks on all employees. All therapists are fingerprinted and photographed prior to treating students in the school district. Health and immunization records are maintained and updated as needed.


Recruitment and retention of licensed therapists with advanced training and experience in pediatric school based practice is a significant challenge and the shortage of qualified therapists will increase as our population ages. Our recruitment efforts are continuous and we have an outstanding retention rate of experienced pediatric trained therapists. We have a clinical education program that is affiliated with 6 universities that provides clinical fieldwork training to physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language pathology students. Our association with these programs provides a continual source of graduates for staffing purposes. Dana Mandel, PT, PCS is also an Advanced Credentialed Clinical Instructor by the American Physical Therapy Association


Therapists are covered with professional liability insurance ($1,000,000/$3,000,000), business general liability insurance including non-owned auto, health insurance, workman’s compensation insurance, disability insurance, and unemployment insurance. Districts will be named as additional insured on the General Liability Policy if requested.