Million Dollar No Bid Contracts for Ex DeKalb Schools Employees

Intalage Leadership
Due to a shortage of math and science teachers, in July 2013 the BOE approved a $1.7 million dollar contract with IN-TALAGE to provide up to 30 “International Teachers”.  October 2013 the BOE approved another $1.7 million for an additional 30 international teachers.  June 2014 INTALAGE was given a $3 million dollar contract.  The July 13 board meeting has a placeholder for “International Teachers” with no details given for this action item.
Among the numerous questions I have, I don’t see where this contract was ever bid out.  Also, the INTALAGE website lists as its four leaders:

Dr. Patti Reed DeKalb Schools Director of Human Resources until 2013
Dr. Robert Tucker DeKalb Schools Human Resources Personnel until 2013
Dr. David Francoeur DeKalb Schools Assoc. Superintendent of Human Resources 10+ years ago
Karen Baron DeKalb Schools Special Education Director until 2012

I asked Dr. Green a series of questions and to look into what seems to be millions of dollars in no bid contracts for ex DeKalb Schools employees. Dr. Green immediately took this item off the agenda pending further examination.
Nevertheless, the questions still remain and these are the answers I received from Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer.
Question: Please provide the Vendor File for INTALAGE and GLOBAL TEACHERS RESEARCH & RESOURCES, historically referenced in the “International Teachers” action item, that appears as a place holder for the upcoming BOE meeting.
Dr. Ward-Smith: Please note that this action item has been pulled from the agenda. A request was made to the Board Office on Monday to remove it.
Question:  What is the DeKalb School District’s position regarding bidding out of this service?  Has it ever been bid out?
Dr. Ward-Smith:  As an initial point, our understanding is that only 3 companies in the Southeast offer this service. This service has not been bid previously, which may be the reason why we received such a low response.  However, the service is currently the subject of a selection process.
Question: What steps has the DeKalb School District taken to reduce the need to use international teachers to fill difficult/technical teaching positions?
Dr. Ward-Smith:  In an effort to reduce our reliance on this contract, the District pre-hired educators in critical fields as early as January 2015  to fill anticipated vacancies; however, we had more than 130 resignations in Math, Science, and Special Education (6 – Resigned for another Position; 17 Abandoned Contract; 59 Did not accept contract offer).  Recruitment is not our issue.  Retention is our issue, and it is mainly due to our salary schedule. Therefore, the teachers who were contracted early are slated to fill these spots.
Question:  Is DeKalb Schools INTALAGE’s only client?  What other districts use teachers from INTALAGE?
Dr. Ward-Smith:  Henry, Savannah Chatamn County, Walton, Clayton. I will have to request a list from the vendor.
(Note: Henry, Savannah and Walton contracts are for $100K – $250K.  The state has no record of a contract between Clayton and INTALAGE. I contrast this with the $3 million contract DeKalb gave this firm.)
Question:  It seems like school district officers left DeKalb Schools and started getting no bid contracts.  2 of the 4 leaders left just a few months before INTALAGE received contracts for millions.  What is the school district’s position on this?
Dr. Ward-Smith:  The correlation between Intalage hiring of former DCSD Administrators and the awarding of a contract for services has had no bearing on the my decision to recommend to the Board of Education that we continue doing business with this vendor. I can simply say that that is a hiring decision of the company.  In my role as an HR professional, I have to work very closely with the vendor to support the teachers.  I cannot say what relationship the above-mentioned former employees had.  Simply that these programs have provided a valuable service to the students of DCSD. Additionally, please note District Policies GAG (regarding employee conflicts of interest) and DJE (regarding purchasing ethics) combine to ensure that contracts are entered into appropriately.

Related Docs and Links
.pdf link icon INTALAGE – Business Registration – Secretary of State
Dekalb School Watch DSW – Update on the International Teachers contract
Dekalb School Watch DSW – The June 2, 2014 BOE meeting and International Teachers
Dekalb School Watch DSW – Again, the subject of international supply teachers

34 responses to “Million Dollar No Bid Contracts for Ex DeKalb Schools Employees

  1. So, at this time, the middle of July, there is no contract for international teachers and no class size waiver on the July BOE meeting agenda?
    Either the district’s HR department is on the ball and six high schools are not over capacity, or the class size waiver will be on the August agenda.
    My money (with large odds) is on the second option.

  2. Paula Caldarella

    Wow, the Family and Friends network continues. In my opinion, one of the first moves Dr. Green needs to make is to find a professional HR director with no ties to DeKalb.

  3. Way to go Stan! Thanks for asking the hard questions. It sounds like there needs to be a discussion about upping teacher pay, otherwise all these new hires will leave as well. Which would cost less, a pay raise or a multi-million dollar vendor contract?

  4. I am very interested to see what action Dr. Green will take. That will set the tone for his administration.

  5. fed up with HR excuses

    Pretty pathetic that we have to go to a niche market company created by former employees of the school district that most likely this woman worked with daily to hire math and science teachers. (Gotta hand it to them. They created a company that has one major client. Just another way to soak the county taxpayers)
    Why do we need her? He needs to get rid of her and the contract and hire a real HR professional. Use the $$ to pay some unexpected retention bonus to math/science teachers and hiring bonuses for new contracts.
    I would love to see the structure of this contract as well.

  6. All of this is funded on the backs of teachers. The last page on Monday’s Financial Report shows that we are $9.3 million under in spending on instruction.

  7. Sylvia Richardson

    I see that Intalage is still on Sexton Woods Dr. , Chamblee in what looks like an empty house. They have been there for several years.

  8. Dr. Green has about 6 weeks to either impress the parents of DeKalb with his fearless restructuring and focus on the classroom. Otherwise, his tenure is certain to go the way of the rest in the last decade – either quitting under pressure (with a lovely parting gift $$) or being charged with a crime.

  9. Sylvia Richardson


  10. Also, DeKalb CREATED this need for International Teachers (I would propose, purposely). They not only cut teacher pay and benefits (healthcare as well as Social Security replacement pensions) they made a policy to increase class sizes, piling more work on teachers and creating the need for fewer teachers. The teachers who left for various reasons – through ‘attrition’, have not been replaced with full time, salaried teachers. Over the years, the number of teachers has declined in DeKalb, while the number of students has increased — creating an “emergency” need for more teachers. Remember, an “emergency” is the reason Crawford Lewis was able to get so many questionable decisions made (including the hiring of Pat Pope.)

  11. Stan: Great job. Such deception never ceases it seems. Dr. Green must focus on this. Force the issue!

  12. Stephen Green

    sent via email
    The RFP for International Teachers has been cancelled. The insufficiency of the responses concerning compliance with labor and employment laws was a primary concern. Due to the number of limited responses, Administration in conjunction with the Purchasing Department, reviewed the Board of Education Policy DJE. Pursuant to policy, competitive bidding seldom will be the best method for selecting professional services.
    The District will move forward with selecting an appropriate provider of International Teachers through a request for quotes for professional services. The two companies that responded to the RFP will have the opportunity to participate in the selection. Based on the evaluation, the RFP will be brought before the Board at the August meeting for consideration.

  13. When Dr. Green quoted from DCSD Policy DJE, Purchasing, he quoted only the last sentence of a section. He omitted the preceding sentence, which requires that DCSD uses “an open and fair selection process that engenders public confidence.”
    DJE Section III B 4: Contracts for professional services, as defined above, shall be awarded in the manner best suited to allowing a full assessment of professional abilities and other relevant criteria, while also ensuring an open and fair selection process that engenders public confidence. Competitive bidding seldom will be the best method for selecting professional services.
    While the contract with In-Talage might meet the letter of the law, it certainly hasn’t “engendered public confidence.”

  14. Well, the curtains will be opened and we shall see the new superintendent! Everyone will be watching to determine if he a duplicate copy of past “leaders.” Students and teachers deserve better than before…..hope he doesn’t disappoint but for myself, I think I have had enough!

  15. Don McChesney

    Stan. When I was on the BOE I went through this same scenario. On many contracts I would ask about competitive bidding. In the case of Intalage I would always question that there seemed to be no competition. Dr. TW Smith often told me that no one else really provided these services. I got that answer on more than one occasion. Has anyone checked with Gwinnett. They have a much larger international population than we do in DeKalb. Gwinnett has shown through their record that they have figured out how to run a very large school system. We ought to study them and emulate a success story. When you find someone who excels in an area study them, follow them, question them, and duplicate them when it is prudent. No bid contracts steal from the students and the taxpayer. What does it say about our system when human resources cannot provide teachers for international students from our own employee pool? I have said for many years that DeKalb essentially gets what is leftover after Gwinnett, Cobb, and Fulton cherry pick the best of the crop. Are we going to settle for that?

  16. Why do we need an international teacher contract anyway? Are there really not enough young, enthusiastic candidates coming out of graduate teaching programs now? I don’t have anything against international teachers, but it seems like we should not have to pay our own HR to find and manage teachers and then also pay a firm to find us teachers. Someone in HR isn’t doing their job for us to need to hire a company to find more teachers. Does anyone know if international teacher turnover is higher? Seems like without more roots in the community, we would be looking at a fairly transient group of hires. Our children deserve teachers who can provide consistency year after year.

  17. Don is 100% correct. DSW2 and Kirk Lunde also reported on this two years in a row. Complete with pictures of the deserted house down the street from Chamblee High School claimed as In-Talage’s office with the SOS. We did our best to ask questions and investigate. See why we keep saying it’s Groundhog Day?
    Update on the International Teachers contract
    Posted on July 23, 2014

  18. I’m concerned that we need a $3 million contract to fill teaching positions. We are losing mid-career professionals to other school systems. HR needs to find out why and the school system needs to make changes that will encourage people to stay. Salary and benefits are an issue, but this problem goes a lot deeper.

  19. This is simply outrageous, again! I cannot believe my eyes seeing these same old names still running the school system. I have no confidence in the new supt. to turn anything around. HR is not interested in finding out why we lose teachers and offer no reason to stay. We need to start with getting of TWS, then go on to Beasley, etc

  20. Concerned – do you see that our new superintendent actually posted here? Maybe there is some hope. We need to give him support as he digs into this roach motel. He may have bitten off more than he can chew, so we need to help him chew it if he is willing to do it. He didn’t roll over on this and rubber stamp it like our last three superintendents would have, so maybe there is hope.

  21. Dr. Green responded via email.

  22. Stan,
    I wonder why the mid-year adjustment added more money $400,000 to C&I .
    In February 2014 the mid-year adjustment added more than $2,000,000 to “school based salary and benefit expenses” but the district finished the year more than $9,000,000 under budget.
    Nancy is right when she says the DCSD budget is at best an estimate of what someone thinks. With the exception of the Vendor Spends Reports, the budget documents available to the public do not show how/where money is actually spent.

  23. Stan, thank you for digging into this – Hold the HR people accountable! This “little house in Chamblee” was precisely what I was referring to in your previous thread. Based on what I have observed over the past several years, both recruitment AND retention are major issues that HR has so poorly addressed and, from my perspective, cleaning up and cleaning out HR should be Dr. Green’s first priority. So many of the issues in the Dekalb County School System are HR-related. Consider the TRA lawsuit wherein two Dekalb County teachers are suing the Dekalb County School System – that is so embarrassing to our County. Offering contracts to teachers that leave out the salary – no wonder so many teachers left! Were the HR Department communicating with the teachers, it would have known much more accurately how many math and science teachers it needed. More basically, if it had known the issues that the teachers had, perhaps it might have been able to take actions to retain many of them. For years, this HR Department has been out of touch with the teachers and simply ignored their concerns. Don is right – Gwinnett has very demographics that are quite similar to Dekalb and it doesn’t seem to have the plethora of issues that Dekalb continues to face year after year. And this is happening when Dekalb spends $9200 per student while Gwinnett is spending barely $8000 per student. Dr. Green, something is very wrong in Dekalb.

  24. And welcome to DeKalb, Dr. Green, where the following DeKalb schools are on the list of the 5% lowest performing Title 1 schools in the state; making them ripe for takeover by the Governor as soon as he creates his “Opportunity” State School District. Roll up those sleeves, Dr. Green, you have your work cut out for you!
    DeKalb County Priority Schools (lowest 5%)
    Clarkston High School
    Columbia High School
    Cross Keys High School
    Destiny Achievers Academy of Excellence
    Knollwood Elementary School
    Margaret Harris Comprehensive School
    McNair High School
    Redan High School
    Toney Elementary School
    Towers High School
    Additionally, these DeKalb schools are in the lowest 10% in performance (Focus Schools) >>
    Allgood Elementary School
    Bob Mathis Elementary School
    Browns Mill Elementary School
    Canby Lane Elementary School
    Clifton Elementary School
    Columbia Middle School
    Eldridge L. Miller Elementary School
    Freedom Middle School
    Kelley Lake Elementary School
    Lithonia Middle School
    Mary McLeod Bethune Middle School
    Meadowview Elementary School
    Montclair Elementary School
    Princeton Elementary School
    Ronald E McNair Discover Learning Academy Elementary School
    Smoke Rise Elementary School
    Snapfinger Elementary School
    Stoneview Elementary School

  25. I would also say “Howdy” to Dr. Green. Have you sold your house in Kansas City yet? After reading this blog and its predecessor (Dekalb School Watch Two), we would all understand if your wanted to reconsider! {:-)
    Yes, you do have some real challenges ahead in improving school performance, especially those cited by DSW2, and some of those reflect the conditions in which the students live. But you should not have the issues that you face in Human Resources. In fact, I think that many of the problems in our schools can be traced directly to the utter failure of Human Resources. Dr. Green, HR has just be so out of touch with the needs of Dekalb County Schools. It has failed to develop a retention plan (let alone execute one) to keep our best and brightest teachers. Without question, losing good teachers punishes our kids and imposes a big cost on the taxpayer. Temporary teachers, substitute teachers, and “International” teachers simply do not cut it. And you don’t need to look very far for very long to understand why so many of our best and brightest are leaving the DCSS or retiring – they lost their TRA contributions (a big loss amounting to at least 6.5% of their salaries), they are getting their first raise in at least 7 years, they are teaching significantly larger classes, they are asked (required) to sign contracts that do not include compensation, and they are not treated with the respect that you and I would expect. It just seems to me that the legal expenses associated with that teacher lawsuit are such a waste of money, money that could be far better spent finding a mutually acceptable settlement with our teachers. Had Dr. Ward-Smith made any such attempt? Has she even calculated how much it might cost to settle? Has she developed a plan to even discuss with the teachers? Why must we rely so heavily on even using an outside recruitment firm? This has been a big problem for at least the last five years. I am asking you to really look hard at HR. The people there have not performed for years and serious consideration needs to be given to making a wholesale change-out. For the sake of our schools, we really, really need to do something there.
    As a disclaimer, I have never worked for the Dekalb County School System nor do I do any business with the DCSS nor do I have anyone in my family who is connected with the DCSS in any way. My sole interests are to improve the conditions under which our teachers work, to attract new exceptionally teachers to teach our kids, to achieve more efficient and effective ways of spending our taxpayer dollars, and to restore excellence in our schools. Our two daughters attended Dekalb schools their entire secondary school careers at a time when Dekalb was ranked in the top 5% of all schools nationally. For the sake of today’s kids, let’s get to work and fast.

  26. Richard Kelley

    As for amount in contracts:
    Summary of Authorities on Contracts
    Teachers, principals, and other certificated professionals are entitled to written contracts. OCGA
    Georgia law provides that a letter of intent is not a legally binding contract. OCGA 20-2-211 (b).
    Note that the statute does not provide a date or timeline as to when letters of intent must be
    presented to employees.
    Georgia law requires that contracts shall be complete in all terms and conditions, including the
    amount of compensation to be paid during the ensuing school year. OCGA 20-2-211 (b). The
    statute does not require contracts to state the specific position or school location.

  27. Looking at the BOE meeting agenda for next Monday, approval of a contract with INTLAGE is being brought before the board. Did Dr. Green research and approve?

  28. Stan Jester

    Hey Paula,
    Yeah, and no documentation to go with it. Where is the RFP, bids and bid evaluation sheet?
    Agenda Item: C. 5. Approval of International Teacher Services Agreement

  29. On the DCSS website I see where the original RFP was cancelled, but I cannot locate a new RFP. And as you said, there are no attachments to this agenda item.

  30. I do not understand why an educational decision had to be bid in the first place. How many are actually concerned about the fact that students are coming to their classes and not having a teacher in that subject area to teach them? Oh yes,but a substitute will surely be there to keep the students quiet and maintain discipline, no idea for how long. These days students are very smart and they do understand how much is being taught and what they are missing in class everyday. All of us around see Gwinnett, Cobb and some of the other counties where students are successful, but at the same time do not bother to see the difference in communities between these counties( compared to De Kalb). I feel that we should trade teachers from one county to another where students come from low socio economic back grounds, and then we shall see, how many of these successful county teachers would survive the pressure. Everyone talks of international teachers, little do people know the effort that teachers put in everyday to get successful results. All of the international teachers lost their jobs and went through a hell summer for no fault of the teachers, but who cares, if we can feed our children or take care of our families.
    Thank you for reading.

  31. Stan Jester

    Hi Mag.
    I’m not against having a 3rd party help find teachers, but multi million dollar service contracts need to be bid out. I agree having an effective teacher, not a substitute, on day one is paramount.
    I don’t understand what you are saying in the rest of your comment … please expound. Gwinnett, Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb each have successful and failing students and schools.

  32. What I mean is that I hate to see why people compare between schools? There has been very few or none at all maybe when anyone has said good about De Kalb County. Over the past couple of years there has been tremendous difference in students results and the number going to colleges. Everyone feels that teachers are successful in Gwinnett, Cobb …. but when it comes to De Kalb it is a totally different scenario. I have nothing against theses counties but comparison should be done at the same level, one of the instances would be that most of De Kalb school students have to work pretty hard after school and probably not even get proper sleep at night before coming to school whereas in the successful counties students go home, have fun time, eat a nice dinner, sleep well, and come focused to school the next day. Yes Gwinnett, Cobb do have failing students and schools but comparatively the number is much lower compared to De Kalb and that is the reason why they are never in the news.
    Thank you for responding.

  33. Stan Jester

    Mag, What good things are you referring to? You mentioned student results and number of students going to college … what student results are you referring to? Can you give me links online to any of this?
    I understand what you’re saying about rarely hearing about the good things. Like the expression goes, you’ll never read in the newspaper “All Planes Landed Safely Today”. However, you will read in the paper that Georgia has 180 school districts. the Governor has identified the 141 worst failing schools and DeKalb has 26 of them.
    I would say there are plenty of students in Gwinnett and Cobb in the same unfortunate conditions you are talking about. DeKalb has 70% Free or Reduced Lunch. Gainsville (78% F/R Lunch) and Valdosta (76% F/R Lunch) are more economically challenged and get better CRCT Scores.

  34. Stan, you should go talk to some of the school Principals mentioned in the priority school list in the article above of DSW2 for the results. I do not have the results. Sorry about that.