As part of the reforms promised after the scandal with the $1.1 billion Computer Specialists contract erupted, DOE officials promised to post more complete information about proposed contracts (called the RA’s) at least a month ahead of the Panel for Educational Policy (PEP) vote, to allow for more public vetting.
In February 2016, we sought volunteers for a Citizens Contract Oversight Committee to review possibly wasteful contracts, and since then we have continuously reviewed and commented on upcoming education contracts to submit to the PEP.
These PEP RA’s can be found on the DOE’s website here. If you want to volunteer for our Citizen’s Contract Committee, or have a tip to share, please email us at NYCschoolcontractwatch@gmail.com. You can read a primer on purchasing methods employed by the DOE here.
You can read about our past comments on DOE contracts here:
Among, other issues, the DOE supplied an additional 51 pages of documentation of Community Based Organizations (CBOs) selected to provide services to Renewal schools with questionable backgrounds — none of which was revealed to the PEP until after they had already voted to approve the contracts in May.
Following criticism of the lack of DOE transparency in vetting CBOs for Renewal Schools (including this article), the DOE released additional information on CBOs receiving contracts. There were 51 pages of negative findings for the vendors hired to provide services to community schools and no information about exactly what services they were hired to provide and how they were chosen, or an explanation of how they will improve academic results at these schools. Nine of these problems were uncovered by a reporter. Was due diligence done and why did it take a reporter to catch the omissions?
Several vendors had received low ratings from DYCD for poor participation and other problems. For example, there are many negative findings against one particular vendor, Sports and Arts Schools Foundation (SASF). On two occasions, young children under supervision of SASF staff were lost, including one in the subway system. The incidents resulted in fines and license suspensions for SASF. It would make sense for SASF to reestablish its record of competence with student supervision before taking on additional contracts. For more on these contractors, see this NY Post article.
Newsclips on our May comments: Scandal-plagued agencies OK’d to get millions in DOE funds (New York Post), City spends $6.5M to fix up this pre-K school -for 18 kids (New York Post).
Newsclips on our April comments: De Blasio used ‘slush fund’ to support faulty pre-K programs (New York Post), Department of Education wants new contract with ‘shady’ special-ed provider (New York Post), Amazon in line to sell E-books to New York City’s schools (The Wall Street Journal), NYC plans to hire firms involved in dishonest practices for special education services (The Daily News)
Newsclips on our formation of a Citizen’s Oversight Committee: Calls for more transparency, oversight in Department of Education Contracting (Gotham Gazette)