Mass Insight Contract “magically extended” on its last day. Cost to taxpayers: $800,000
The cornerstone of Governor Malloy’s corporate education reform industry initiative is the concept of “turnaround schools” and the creation of the “Commissioner’s Network.” Both strategies are part of Malloy’s broader effort to allow private entities to run public schools.
The task of implementing those outrageous policies rests with Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor and two members of his personal staff, Adam Goldfarb (Chief of Staff) and Morgan Barth (Director of the Office of School Turnaround).
Morgan Barth is the former Achievement First employee who illegally taught and worked in Achievement First schools for six years.
Last year, as part of their ongoing effort to undermine local control and privatize public education in Connecticut, Commissioner Pryor let go or re-assigned the extremely experienced team of State Department of Education experts who had been helping towns work through the challenges of educating students in Connecticut’s largest and poorest districts.
Pryor let go the four Leaders in Residence and three superintendents, each of whom had direct experience working with administrators and teachers in urban classrooms and school districts where the majority of students face the challenges of poverty, language barriers or special education needs.
Pryor also re-assigned the State Department of Education’s experts on bullying and improving school climates, multi-cultural education and bilingual and English language learning programs.
Instead of utilizing Connecticut experts, Pryor retained an out-of-state, politically-connected company called Mass Insight for nearly $1 million.
To service the contract with Pryor, Mass Insight sent in a handful of inexperienced, out-of-state consultants. In the first four months of the contract, Mass Insight replaced nearly every one of these out-of-state consultants with another inexperienced, out-of-state consultant. In some cases the consultants lasted no more than a few weeks in the job.
But as a group, Mass Insight’s consultants, with Morgan Barth at the helm, managed to alienate superintendents, principals and local boards of education in many of Connecticut’s thirty Alliance Districts.
The contract with Mass Insight was scheduled to end on January 31, 2014.
But with no public notice and no public participation, Stefan Pryor and the State Department of Education, along with the help of Malloy’s Budget Director and Attorney General George Jepsen’s Office quietly approved an $800,000 contract extension that is said to have gone into effect on JANUARY 31, 2014.
The last-minute $800,000 contract extension will allow Stefan Pryor, Morgan Barth and Mass Insight to continue to wreak havoc on Connecticut’s poorest public schools.
Hidden from public view, Stefan Pryor requested and obtained approval from Malloy’s Budget Chief and the Office of Policy and Management to extend Mass Insight’s contract and pay the out-of-state company the extra $800,000 on January 24, 2014.
According to documents related to the matter, the Mass Insight contract extension was finalized and sent to the company on January 30, 2014.
Under state law, as a check and balance on excessive agency actions, contract extensions of this nature require a sign off from the Office of the Attorney General.
In this case, the Mass Insight contract was apparently forwarded to the Attorney General’s office on January 31, 2014.
While it is unclear exactly when the Attorney General’s Office acted, it did approve the contract and Commissioner Pryor and the State Department of Education reported that they planned to have the contract amendment “fully executed by the end of business January 31, 2014.”
While it is beyond insulting to see the Malloy administration dump experienced Connecticut residents so it can out-source jobs to out-of-state consultants, it is even more absurd that Commissioner Pryor would seek to extend this contract and further undermine Connecticut’s poorest school districts.