by Jon Pelto from Wait, What
It started as one of Paul Vallas’ notorious “no-bid” contracts.
Vallas signed the contract with the Public Consulting Group on April 23, 2012. Vallas had worked with the Public Consulting Group (PCG) numerous times in his previous positions. As a result of those contracts, the Public Consulting Group has made millions of dollars. In fact, the firm highlights their experience with Vallas in Chicago and Philadelphia as a way to showcase their accomplishments on their company website.
When Vallas arrived in Bridgeport he was so sure that he wanted the services of the Public Consulting Group that he sidestepped Bridgeport’s contracting laws by using a “sole-source” procedure to make sure no time was lost to the cumbersome and pesky process of having to solicit bids or compare products. In this case, he went so far as to purchase a new special education software system for the City of Bridgeport without even properly involving special education teachers in that software selection process.
On April 23, 2012, a contract was signed, all with the promise that Bridgeport would have access to the “best product” in the entire country.
Wouldn’t you know it; the software was even called Easy IEP. In honor, one supposes, of how easy it was going to be to use… [Or maybe how easy it was to fleece the unsuspecting taxpayers of Bridgeport and Connecticut who would be paying for the software].
In any case, the software failed to materialize.
Instead, email after email went out informing Bridgeport’s special education teachers that they were to use the old, “outdated” product until the issues with Easy IEP were resolved.
July 2012 came and went.
So did August, September, October, November and December.
Team Vallas explained that various issues had come up, but the special education software would be ready on this date or that date.
January 2013 came, but the New Year didn’t not bring the Easy IEP software.
February came and went.
So did March.
But rest assured, the problems have finally all been resolved and Team Vallas recently wrote to tell Bridgeport’s teachers that EasyIEP would “go-live” today, April 1, 2013…nine months after the software was supposed to come on line and one year after Vallas signed the “no-bid” contract.
And although it is eight months into the school year, Team Vallas is pleased to announce that “in addition to the previous school-based embedded trainings, there will be weekly supplemental trainings. The trainings will occur based on staff request and locations will vary throughout the district…Finally, a number of technical supports are in place to further support the development of a strong foundational knowledge relating to EasyIEP and to assist with any questions you may have” Those trainings include, “ A Webinar will be made available to all staff, which addresses the overall EasyIEP process, A district-wide technical support email where staff can send their questions to have them answered by a team of Bridgeport-trained EasyIEP users – the email address is EasyIEP_Help@bridgeportedu.net and an EasyIEP Reference Guide.”
Meanwhile, the Board of Education has never been fully informed about the mess nor provided any details about the additional cost, if any, that the City will have to pay for things like the extra training.
Freedom of information requests will now be submitted to see what documents and payments are hidden away.
And this was only one of at least a dozen “no-bid” contracts Vallas signed.