Mass Insight contract “magically extended” on its last day. Cost to taxpayers: $800,000

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. 

  • Castles Burning

    business as usual for this “administration.” Thank you, Jonathan, for alerting us.

  • buygoldandprosper

    Morgan and Adam…all one has to do is follow the compensation each has received over the years to see examples of how residents are getting ripped off. If they were so good at what they do, they would still be in New Jersey, but lampreys feed best when they stick with their host.
    Another GREAT blog post revealing what government would rather keep in the dark!
    Keep up the greatwork, Jon!

  • Mary Gallucci

    Why would the Attorney General’s office approve this contract extension?
    When is Jepsen up for re-election?

    • jonpelto

      Trying to determine who signed off in the AG’s office.

      Jepsen, like Malloy, are looking at November 2014 so they can continue their dreams of political grandeur

  • Mary Gallucci

    Oh, and this reminds me.
    Apparently in Connecticut it is not possible to put up ballot initiatives for changes to state law and such. But I wonder if several local “recommendations” from local governments could not be envisioned. The most critical, to my mind, would be to require that the Commissioner of Education have education degrees and classroom experience (TFA emphatically does not and never will count).
    Pryor is unfit for the office of Commissioner of Education, as he has no education background and no substantial history of studying in an educational, pedagogical, or child development field. I could go on about what he lacks, but… most thinking people are aware of that.

  • mookalaboona

    Once again, the Malloy Supremacy at work with it’s trickle down effects. Down with Malloy needs to be the battle cry!

  • Sleepless in Bridgeport

    Hartford is making Little Rock look like a better place to reside.

  • jschmidt2
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