Central School System Drops the Ball on Public Bid Law

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By Dave Freneaux

    The Central Community School System paid $423,929 to MIS Technology Group over two years without putting the work out for bids.  Over a three year period MIS Technology Group received an additional $108,000 for undocumented professional services work done without a signed contract.  A software contract with Tyler Technologies lacked sufficient documentation to qualify as a "piggy-back" contract which would exempt it from having to be put out for public bid.  The School System was unable to locate its signed contract with Johnson Controls until after the preliminary Legislative Audit was prepared.  These are the significant findings included in the Louisiana Legislative Auditor's report after investigating certain transactions of the Central Community School System.  The entire Legislative Auditor's Report and the response by the School System can be seen on the web at .  

    In its formal response to the Legislative Audit, the School System reports to have implemented policies and hired a purchasing agent so that public bid laws will be complied with in the future.  The School System also assures that it has received fair value in services from its relationship with MIS Technology Group despite the contract, which was approved by the Schol Board, never having been actually signed.  The response further states that it is believed the School System's former Business Manager complied with the law concerning "piggy-backing" on other state contracts, but could still offer no evidence to support that claim.  Finally, The School System was able to produce its contract with Johnson Controls and included the contract in the formal response.

   Central has received much media attention and public debate over the release of this report on Monday.  Channel 9 headlined "Report states Central schools possibly broke the law".  Channel 2 and the Advocate have reported similar stories.  Public comment on Social websites and Blogs are asking alot of tough questions, such as: Who should have known that the purchases were required to be put out for Public Bid? Has taxpayer money been wasted? Will the School Board explain the issue in detail?  Will public comment be allowed if the Audit findings are presented at the next School Board meeting?

    While Superintendent Faulk handled the immediate media inquires, and a press release came out detailing steps taken to ensure that similar issues do not arise in the future, most of the discussion around Central seems to be focused on how the School Board will handle the issue at its next meeting at 6:00 PM on Monday the 11th.  The recent City and School Board elections seem to have raised the political and governmental awareness of many Central residents, and has ushered in a strong call for openness and transparency in government.  In light of this, it would be hard to imagine that the School Board would facilitate any less than a full and open explanation and discussion of the details of the Legislative Audit, allowing for public comment on the entirety of the report at the October 11th meeting.