Wait, What? readers know the long, ugly story behind yesterday’s news that Commissioner Stefan Pryor did, in fact, use a quasi-state agency, the State Education Resource Center (SERC), to get around state bidding laws so that he could hire companies and individuals that he had worked with in the past.
State Auditors have now determined that Pryor side-stepped the state laws in his successful effort to bring in consultants to develop Malloy’s education reform bill. Most of the consultants had worked with Pryor in his previous job when he worked in New Jersey.
In fact, the state Department of Education used the same technique to deliver a two-year contract to Steven Adamowski, who now serves as the “Special Master” for the Windham and New London school systems.
The CT Post initially broke the story of Pryor’s failure to follow the Connecticut’s bidding laws.
Pryor had directed SERC to his hand-picked contractors and then Malloy’s Commissioner of Education transferred money from the state Department of Education to SERC to cover the costs. By having the contracts go through SERC, Pryor could hire colleagues without going out to bid or using the state’s sole source procedure.
According to the State Auditors, “SERC represents itself as a nonprofit organization on its website…However, the statutory language indicates that SERC was created as a state entity … SERC has not acted in a manner that is consistent with state agency requirements for transparency and accountability.”
Commissioner Pryor has said he was just following common practice and is now working to change SERC’s status to prevent the bidding maneuver from being used in the future.
Pryor’s Director of Communications, Kelly Donnelly released a statement to the CT Post saying, “The State Department of Education is committed to resolving issues raised about the State Education Resource Center in a manner that promotes transparency and accountability…”That is why, in January, the department, with the unanimous support of the State Board of Education, proposed new legislation to clarify SERC’s legal status, establish a board of directors as well as new hiring and procurement procedures, and ensure transparency in its operations, among other key reforms.”
However, Connecticut’s state auditors responded, “Their proposed language does not call for a not-for-profit entity and is not consistent with the provisions of quasi-public entities.”
You can find the latest CT Post article here: http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Probe-State-agency-a-slush-fund-4299001.php#ixzz2Ld5Gx7GG
Meanwhile, for more background about Pryor, SERC and how this story developed, check out some of these previous Wait, What? posts
- NEWS FLASH: The Corporate State of Mind – Malloy Administration Ducks Connecticut’s Bidding Laws
- Don’t Let Any “Education Reform” Compromise Sweep the Illegal Activities and Arrogance Under the Rug
- While Rome Burned: Part (Darn, I’ve lost count)
- I would’ve sworn you used the word “transparency” – The Art of Moving Public Funds “Off-Line”
- Yet another state contract run through the State Education Resource Center (SERC)
- Add Another Reason for SERC to Do Malloy/Pryor’s Bidding on Directing Contracts
- IMPORTANT UPDATE: Oh, it’s good to be King, or at least Commissioner of Education
- Malloy Administration Response Raises More Questions about “Education Reform” Contracts
- 5/4/12 Education Update #1: “No Comment”
- Even More Problems with No Bid Contracts!