Millions in No Bid Contracts – Back On The Agenda – Updated Aug 7

Intalage Leadership
For the last two years DeKalb Schools has been giving Ex DeKalb administrators millions in no bid contracts.  Last month Dr. Stephen Green took this off the agenda for further review. So, I’m absolutely perplexed as to how, despite the flagrant violation of board policy, this no bid contract can be on the agenda again at the Aug 3 board meting.
As of yet the board is not privy to the contract to be signed later today (or any supporting documentation whatsoever).  Let’s review what we do know.
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

Last month when asked about these no bid contracts given to our friends and former DeKalb Schools HR administrators, Dr. Ward-Smith replied, “these programs have provided a valuable service to the students of DCSD. Additionally, please note [district policy] DJE (regarding purchasing ethics) ensure that contracts are entered into appropriately.
Hoping we finally bid this out, I inquired into the RFP process for this contract.  Dr. Ward-Smith responded, “The initial RFP was cancelled and therefore has no bearing on the subsequent selection process. The District requested a quote for professional services per Policy DJE. [A list of questions] was sent to: Global Teachers Inc., In-Talage Inc., and Unique Services.
(Note:  As stated earlier, neither the quote or answers to those questions has been provided to the board.)
I’m quite concerned about the administration’s understanding of how the bidding process of contracts works.  Policy DJE states “Purchases or contracts of with a total estimated cost of $100,000.00 or more shall be awarded through a written competitive sealed bid process“.  The district, however, cannot simply invite their three best friends to bid on a contract and ignore everyone else.  The district cannot maintain that there are no other providers for this service if they have not engaged in a solicitation by formally putting out an Invitation To Bid (ITB).  Asking a few of your friends to give a quote for services does not qualify as a “competitive sealed bid process” pursuant to Policy DJE.  Therefore, approving this procurement of services is a flagrant violation of policy DJE and should be rejected as such.  QED.  It shouldn’t even be coming before the board again in this fashion.  Is the school system unaware of the procurement malfeasance that was exposed during the recent trial of CEO Ellis leading to his conviction?
In addition to giving millions in contracts to our friends in the HR department, I’m also concerned about violating federal H1B regulations.  When asked if U.S. citizens would be preferable to foreign national teachers, Dr. Ward-Smith replied, “The District is seeking highly quality educators regardless of their nationality.”  However, the cancelled RFP states, “(DCSD) is seeking proposals from highly qualified and capable offerors engaged in the business of providing international (foreign national) teachers”.  Apparently, the cancelled RFP was written to favor the procurement of international teachers.  That seems, prima facie, as evidence that DeKalb is uninterested in first seeking teachers for the good ol’ U.S.A.
The new superintendent has been on the job for a month and everybody is looking for telltale signs of what to expect in the next chapter in DeKalb Schools.  This agenda item perpetuates the way DeKalb has done business for too long.

UPDATE – 08/07/2015
At the 8/3 Board Meeting Chief Legal Officer, Michael Walker, said, “The provisions of DJE are Part III – Subsection B.4. That contemplates a non competitive selection process for professional services.”
Question – (Stan Jester) Please explain how Part III – Subsection B.4 contemplates a “non competitive selection pro-cess”. I do not believe it contemplates a “non competitive selection process” for following reasons:
1) Subsection B.4 is under “Competitive Selection”. The competitive selection process as described in Subsection B still apply.
2) Subsection C.4 lists “Exceptions To Competitive Select” and the reasons in Subsection B.4 are not one of them.
3) You said Subsection B.4 contemplates “non competitive selection”. It does not. It contemplates not using “competitive bidding” as the sole reason for awarding contracts.
Answer – (Michael Walker) I concur that Policy DJE(III)(B)(4) does appear under the heading “Competitive Selection.” As general rule, alt-hough headings and titles contained in laws can provide some interpretive aid as to the meaning of the actual law, they cannot limit the plain meaning of the text of the law.
The plain language of subsection (III)(B)(1), for example, is clear: “Purchases or contracts with a total estimated cost of $5,000.00 or less shall be made at the discretion of the District.” Even though this provision also falls under the heading “Competitive Selection,” the plain language of the text provides complete discretion for purchases under the threshold amount. No competition is expressly required, despite the location of this provision under the “Competitive Selection.”
Similarly, the plain language of subsection (III)(B)(4) provides that professional services contracts “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.” The self-contained provi-sions of subsection (III)(B)(4) are clear, and although the heading “Competitive Selection” may be deemed to provide interpretive aid as to the meaning of subsection (III)(B)(4), it cannot limit the plain meaning of the text.
Question 2: (Stan Jester) What Subsection B.4 says is that competitive bidding may not be the “best manner”, but a “full assessment” as part of the competitive selection process which includes Subsection B.3 “written competitive sealed bid”. Please refer to Mr. Brantley and/or his action items on how to conduct a “full assessment” using the competitive selection process in conjunction with “written competitive sealed bids”. What is the district’s position/comment on that?
Following the cancellation of RFP 16-478, a less formalized but no less open and fair process was used to select a provider for international teachers, pursuant to the following provisions of DCSD Policy DJE:
Policy DJE(II)(B)(3) defines “professional services” as services that require, in pertinent part, “The exercise of specialized skill, knowledge, creativity, or technical abilities. Professional services typically are better suited to a qualitative or subjective method of assessment, rather than a rigidly quantitative or objective method of assessment.” Policy DJE expressly includes “recruiters” as an example of profes-sional services.
Policy DJE(III)(B)(4) provides, “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.”
As the policy language reflects, professional services are typically better suited to a qualitative or subjective method of assessment, rather than a rigidly quantitative or objective method of assessment.  Accordingly, formalized competitive bidding seldom will be the best method for selecting professional services.

Latest Q&A regarding the contract with IN-TALAGE (07/31/2015)
Q1. In the agenda item, please use the full formal name of the vendor (i.e.: Intalage, Inc. or Global Teachers Re-search, Inc.).
In-Talage Inc.
Q2. There are no supporting documents attached to the agenda item on eBoards. Please attach the following documents to the eBoards agenda item:
· The contract/agreement with the vendors
· Responses to RFP/ITB
· Vendor evaluation/rubric results
The initial RFP was cancelled and therefore has no bearing on the subsequent selection process. The District re-quested a quote for professional services per Policy DJE. The following information was sent to: Global Teachers Inc., In-Talage Inc., and Unique Services. See the questions listed in Q4.
Q3. Please provide the vendor file information for Intalage, Inc. and Global Teachers Research, Inc.
The vendor profile is in CrossPointe.
As of 7/20/2015 there were no records found through the System for Award Management regarding debarment.  We have a W-9 on file; no immigration and security documents currently on file.
As of 06/25/2015 there were no records found through the System For Award Management regarding debarment.  We have a suspension and debarment certification on file with RFP.  We have immigration and security certification with a contractor affidavit on file with RFP.
Q4. What standards did you use to evaluate the quality of Intalage, Inc. and the other vendor(s)?
We invited each company to respond to the questions below. We considered the responsive information as well as pricing. Given the significant need for the teachers, and based on pricing and a 10+ year history with In-Talage, Inc. without concerns regarding immigrations or employment practices, it was determined that engaging In-Talage, Inc. was in the best interest of the students at this time to ensure to the greatest extent possible adequate staffing.
1. What experience does your company have in providing international (foreign national) teachers for school dis-tricts of a similar size and scope as DCSD?
2. How does your company plan to maintain staffing levels of qualified teachers to fulfill the contract obligations?
3. Has your company, or any past or present agent, employee, or officer of your company ever been the subject of an investigation, inquiry, or other review by and federal, state, or local agency concerning practices related to immi-gration, labor or employment laws? If so, provide a detailed description of the matter including the resolution, if any.
4. If your company, or any past or present agent, or officer of your company, has ever been fined and other-wise sanctioned in any way by any federal, state, or local agency. If so, please describe in detail the circum-stances of the matter.
5. If your company, or any past or present agent, or officer of your company, has ever been sued or been named as a party in any legal action or claim arising out of any alleged violation of any federal, state, or local law related to immigration, labor or employment practices. If so, please describe in detail the circumstances of the matter(s).
6. Please explain in detail what steps your company has already taken to ensure compliance with federal, state and local laws, regulations and rules related to employment and labor practices. If your company in-tends to take additional steps to ensure compliance with these rules, please describe in detail.
7. Please confirm that teachers working in DCSD schools receive all compensation the District pays for years of creditable service on the DCSD Teacher’s Salary Schedule? Explain in detail how the teachers working in DCSD schools will be paid by your company. Be sure to explain how their base pay or salaries are calculated; explain in detail any additional payments or supplements that may be made; describe in detail any withhold-ings from employee pay; describe in detail any fees, charges, or other costs that may be assessed to your em-ployees.
8. Explain in detail the method by which your company will provide paid sick leave that meets the require-ments set forth in O.C.G.A. §§ 20-2-850 to 853.
9. How does your company plan to prevent personnel turnover of selected teachers during the contract year?
10. How does your company plan to facilitate seamless communication with the staff of the DeKalb County School District to address daily concerns?
11. Explain in detail your company’s process to address concerns, questions and complaints expressed by DCSD and/or teachers employed by your company.
12. Please explain in detail your cost for providing services to the DeKalb County School District.
Q5. The last International Teachers contract was for $3,005,000. Since the beginning of August 2014, we have spent $3.78M combined between Intalage, Inc. and Global Teachers Research, Inc. Is there another con-tract for this time period with either vendor? There appears to be an overage of almost $780K. How did that happen and was it approved by the board?
The contact states that it is an estimate of the annual salary for the teacher being $55,000. As stated, many have a higher degree and years of service which impact the amount paid for the individual. I will need to complete a deeper dive into the actual expenses to provide a response.
Q6. There is a cancelled RFP on the district website dated May 21 requesting, “(DCSD) is seeking proposals from highly qualified and capable offerors engaged in the business of providing international (foreign nation-al) teachers”. Why are we limiting this RFP to only foreign national teachers?
The district has explored a few other staffing agencies. One in particular charged 40% of the teacher’s salary as a placement fee with no sound documentation of the teacher’s effectiveness.
Teacher employed through other Staffing Agency
For a 1st year teacher with the salary of $42,000; the fee paid to the agency would be $16,800. Additionally, the District will pay 28% of the teacher’s salary for benefits. The cost to employ a teacher with agency for 1 year is $70,560
For a 10th year with a specialist degree and the salary of $58,000 the fee paid to the district would be $23,000. Additionally, the District will pay 28% of the teacher’s salary for benefits. The cost to employ a teach-er with agency for 1 year is $97,240
Teacher employed through International Contract
The language the contract will ensure that all monies eared by the International Teacher will be paid to the in-ternational teacher. Therefore, the cost to the district:
For a 1st year teacher with the salary of $42,000; the fee paid to the agency would be $12,500. There are no benefits provided. The cost to employ a teacher the International Agency is for 1 year $54,500
For a 10th year with a specialist degree and the salary of $58,000; the fee paid to the agency would be $12,500. There are no benefits provided. The cost to employ a teacher the International Agency is for 1 year $70,500
Teacher employed through DeKalb County School District
For a 1st year teacher with the salary of $42,000. The District will pay 28% of the teacher’s salary for bene-fits. The cost to employ a teacher with DCSD for 1 year is $54,600
For a 10th year with a specialist degree and the salary of $58,000. The District will pay 28% of the teacher’s sala-ry for benefits. The cost to employ a teacher with DCSD for 1 year is $74,240
Q7. Wouldn’t U.S. citizens be preferable to foreign national teachers?
The District is seeking highly quality educators regardless of their nationality
Q8. Why not hire Teach For America (TFA) teachers?
Cost is one factor. Another is retention. TFA is a 2 year commitment. The District has found that many TFA teachers return to their respective fields once the economy improves.
Q9. There are numerous laws regarding the employment of H1B foreign nationals. For example, employers must attest that by hiring a H1B worker, it is not displacing any US worker for a similar position. What are we doing to guarantee these foreign national teachers are not displacing US workers like TFA?
The attestation you have referenced only requires of
(1) employers determined to be “H-1B dependent;”
(2) certain employers in the financial sector who receive federal funds; and
(3) employers who have been found willful violators by the US DOL. Additionally, it is widely documented that there is a shortage of Math, Science and Special Education Teachers in the United States. Teachers of the International Teachers Program who have worked in DCSD have had an average of 10-18 years of experience; many with a doctoral degree. This contract is simply a staffing resource. No principal will be forced to hire a teacher through this contract. In the event a teacher has not been secured through other recruitment methods; this contract will provide an alternative option.

25 responses to “Millions in No Bid Contracts – Back On The Agenda – Updated Aug 7

  1. You can not tell me there was not many experienced qualified American teachers applying and being interviewing at the job fair held recently to fill many of the positions. News cameras showed lines wrapped around the room and out the door! There shouldn’t be a need for foreign recruitment if they spent their time using applicants on file….same old, same old! Apparently Dr.Green has joined the F & F Club!!

  2. fed up with HR excuses

    Ward-Smith needs to go.

  3. fed up with HR excuses

    Stan, ask her point blank. Does the top HR professional of our school department have so little faith in the quality of teachers trained here, employed here in the metro atlanta area? Ask her what is the need for an international teacher? As far as I can figure we only have one International center. Why wouldn’t we be hiring local teaching professionals first? Is there a problem with her recruitment.
    Perhaps it is failure to communicate on her part. Seems to me they are outsourcing our kids education. Why? According to her, first they will use their own recruitment methods and use this service as a backup, seems they used it quite frequently if they went over budget. Did they come back to the board to request additional funds if they went over budget? over budget was close to a cool million.

  4. The bottom part of this post is the Q&A I had last week with Dr. Ward-Smith. Her answer to Q6 implies that other agencies are too expensive, so that’s why they didn’t bid this out. That’s why I’m concerned they don’t understanding why we have a sealed bid process.

  5. Fed Up, Not just around here, anywhere around the state or country for that matter. That’s where I was going with Q7. “Wouldn’t U.S. citizens be preferable to foreign national teachers?”
    Dr Ward-Smith: “The District is seeking highly quality educators regardless of their nationality”. However, the cancelled RFP says “(DCSD) is seeking … international (foreign national) teachers”.
    Going over budget … good question. They were $780K over budget last year. I asked about that and the response was “The contract states that it is an estimate of the annual salary for the teacher being $55,000. I will need to complete a deeper dive into the actual expenses to provide a response.” So, where’s this contract she speaks of? It’s not attached to the agenda item on eBoards.
    The agenda item doesn’t say it’s an estimate. It says “amount of the contracts will not exceed $3,005,000”. As far as I can tell, there was no approval for the extra $780K.

  6. Don McChesney

    This appears to be a clear violation of policy. The BOE should easily vote to not offer the contract. If Dr. Green intervenes then you know exactly what you have. That would be a BOE with no power to make policy.Thank you DeKalb legislators and Dr. Mark Elgart of SACS for producing the toothless Board you have created. If you are afraid as a Board to do the job for which you are elected then you become superfluous. More administration run-amok.

  7. Not pleased at all with Dr. Green’s reasoning behind going ahead with INTALAGE….cost and and a 10 year history of success? Do we have metrics that highlight the success the district has had with this company? And Vickie Turner questioning why we would open up to more bidders knowing they are more expensive? Sheesh…let’s not spend money on quality teachers for our children.

  8. Stan, I am appalled at what Dr. Ward-Smith has told you, particularly regarding Teach for America. My own daughter is a product of the Dekalb County School System, having attended all 12 years here. When she received her Masters Degree from the University of Mississippi, she chose to work for Teach for America in Tunica, Mississippi. She had been accepted into the Doctoral program at Yale University, but chose to delay her entry there in order to teach disadvantaged children in Tunica. She taught there for three years and, until today, maintains contact with some of her former students. One of her great joys is to know that a number of her students have escaped the poverty cycle, attended colleges or technical education programs, and now are gainfully employed. And they each attribute this success to the commitment of one TFA teacher. She could have chosen another direction, but chose to live on Moon Lake in a trailer in order to teach there. She could have earned much more, but chose to accept the Tunica job anyway. I remember well moving her to Mississippi and even as we left her there, I tried to talk her out of it. She saw this as an opportunity for her to “give back” and she was not the only TFA teacher choosing this path. Today, my daughter has received her PhD from Yale University and is on tenure track at one of our major Universities.
    Yes, it is true that many TFA teachers do choose to follow other paths after completing their TFA commitment. But let me ask you this – how many of those so-called “international” teachers would not do the same if they had another alternative? And please tell me how it is better for “international” teachers who probably have their own difficulties with our language to communicate with our students, so many of which are having difficulty in the classroom? And how is it better for the Dekalb County School System to “delegate” the task of interviewing and choosing teachers for its classrooms to an outside firm? And I would ask Dr. Ward-Smith to be specific when she says that these outside firms have contributed so much. How so? If so, why is our student performance still so bad. These students are having enough difficulties without adding another difficulty of communicating with their teacher. For three years, my daughter made a big difference in Tunica, Mississippi, and changed lives. Dekalb could only wish for the same experience.
    The problem in Dekalb County is obvious and it starts at the top. We have had poor management, poor administration, and poor leadership for years and, based on current comments by the administration, little has changed. That is why student achievement is so bad, teacher morale is so low, why we came within a hair of losing our accreditation and remain, to this day, short of full accreditation. And it is why community after community in Dekalb County is seeking alternatives to the DCSS. There is no vision of excellence and little, if any commitment, to changing where we are. As you so accurately pointed out, this administration thinks that it is above following the laws of this State and the policies set by the Dekalb County School Board. For years, we have had the highest teacher turnover rate in the Metro area and, coincidentally, the highest legal expenses. Teachers are suing their own school system. I find it very difficult to understand why Dekalb County cannot be successful in recruiting teachers from State Colleges and Universities or those of neighboring States. If we could get our priorities on the classroom, restore those TRA contributions for our teachers, compensate on par with our neighbors, and give them some decent leadership, then we might be able to. The very fact that we must rely to such a great extent on these “outside” contracts is a testament to just how bad our leadership is. Fix the leadership and you’ll go a long way to fixing the Dekalb County School System. I would simply ask this school board to compare the Dekalb System to that in Gwinnett. Based on what I have read, there is little difference in poverty levels, single parent homes, learning capabilities, or any other measure. Just what then is the reason for the decidedly difference in student outcomes? Answer that question honestly and you have gone a long way to identifying just what Dekalb needs to do.
    Dr. Green has his work cut out for him and the decisions he makes to clean up and clean out the Dekalb County School System administration will go a long way toward defining his administration. I hope that this school board has made its expectations clear and measurable.

  9. The daughter of a friend of mine just graduated with her Master’s in Education from UGA. She decided to go with Teach for America in order to try and make a difference in children’s lives. She is in Ohio, but she would have been such an asset to the DeKalb School System. Dr. Ward-Smith is clueless and needs to be shown the door – yesterday.

  10. To follow up on the International Teachers action item, I will
    1. Evaluate the DJE policy Mr. Walker referred to that allows the district to engage IN-TALAGE without a bid process.
    2. Get the results of the questions used to evaluate the vendors
    3. Transcribe the video and verify some of the facts stated during the meeting, especially those pertaining to TFA.
    4. Find out why it went over budget last year and if the board approved the $780K overage.
    I also need to do a write up on procurement and how it works. This action item, by the way, did not go through procurement.
    Procurement in DeKalb has a troubled recent history. Remember the name Kevin Walton? He was the Chief Procurement Officer for the county and was on his way to jail when he cut a deal and agreed to wear a wire during discussions with Burrell Ellis.

  11. Do we know how many and how long these International teachers stay(ed) with DCSS? Did they receive evaluations from the Principals of the schools they taught at? What were the test score results of the students they taught? Is there any data available that indicates the success/failure of the teachers provided by INTALAGE? As usual with DCSS, long on questions and short on answers.

  12. Paula – I appreciate your comments. You are so very right about Dr. Ward-Smith. Stan – I thank you for hosting this fact checker blog. I only wish that your fellow School Board members would do the same. Are you getting any support from any of them because you are asking some very good questions?
    Before you joined the School Board, I was a regular attendee of its meetings and appreciated the many questions that your wife asked. She is really doing a great job now as a Dekalb County Commissioner and continues to ask questions that the public needs answered. I especially appreciate her active presence in our community here in Tucker.
    I think that this School Board needs to do some serious self examination and honestly look at the Dekalb County School System. As I mentioned in my previous post, how can two school systems (Gwinnett and Dekalb) have virtually identical student demographics, be next door to each other, but have such different student performance? And how can Gwinnett achieve those results at a cost of over $1000 per student less than Dekalb? Does Gwinnett use outside firms to place “international” teachers?
    Please post what you find out about the bid process in Dekalb, specifically as to whether Board policies are being followed or not. Also, do you know what happened to Dr. Howe who formerly headed up the curriculum? Flipping my Rolodex once again, is there any possibility that an independent outside audit could be made to find some answers to the questions you are asking and to identify just what resources the DCSS has and how it is using them? Seems to me like that would be very helpful to Dr. Green.

  13. Good reporting Stan! We reported on this several times last year. Here’s our last post >>
    You will notice that Ward-Smith claims the $55,000 is the “average” cost back then. Now, she claims it is the base and goes up from $55,000.
    If you would like to see the agreements from last year, they are in with the DCSS minutes from that board meeting last June >>
    We would recommend downloading them and keep them in your files. DCSS files have a way of going missing when people get interested. For example, you will also notice that we have links in our post to the contracts – however, as per DCSS, you click the link now, and there is nothing there. That means those docs were purposely removed. Happens all the time with them.
    Below is their verbiage from the pitch to the board last year >>
    Due to teacher shortages in the critical needs areas of Math, Science and Special Education, the services of Intalage, Inc. and Global Teaching Agency will provide the District with additional staffing resources for filling vacant critical needs areas. All teachers selected by the District are fully certified and will be interviewed and recommended by the Principal. To reiterate, this is only an additional staffing resource to provide high quality teachers to students.
    Financial Impact
    The amount of the contracts will not exceed $3,005,000 for up to 45 teachers and will come from allotted teacher positions in the General Fund.
    Fee for Agency – $11,500.00
    Average Fee for Employee Salary – $55,000
    Dr. Tekshia Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources, 678.676.0168
    Quick Summary / Abstract
    Presented by: Dr. Tekshia M. Ward-Smith, Chief Human Resources Officer, Division of Human Resources
    International teachers provided by Intalage, Inc. and Global teaching agencies provide cultural diversity for our schools and are in the critical needs areas: Math, Science and Special Education.
    Requested Action
    It is requested that the Board of Education approve the teacher services agreements with In-talage, Inc. and Global teaching agencies for up to forty five (45) teachers for the 2014-2015 school year in the total amount not to exceed $3,005,000.
    Implementation Date(s)
    August 2014
    Approved by Legal Affairs
    (that would be Ron Ramsey)

  14. I think this is Ward-Smith’s way of paying former DCSS administrators to do her job. She can’t keep up. Ever.
    What a racket!
    One has to wonder – did any of these teachers get a Rt3 bonus?

  15. Let me guess. The vote was 6-1 to approve with only Stan voting “No”. Correct?

  16. Vote was 5-1 (Dr. Morley was absent). If it makes you feel any better, I believe some of the other board members considered voting ‘no’.

  17. No, it doesn’t make me feel better. In my opinion, this looks almost like racketeering. In fact, it reminds me of the old days of Dr. Lewis. He was able to get funding for pretty much anything by just proclaiming it an emergency. Doesn’t look like much has changed. And things won’t change until we get 3 more Stans on the board to insist that the superintendent do what’s right.

  18. As far as I am concerned, the other board of education members are either enablers of this corrupt, failed school system and/or cowards for refusing to stand up and make the right decisions for the students of this school system.

  19. OK. Video and Transcript of the International Teachers discussion here:
    Michael Walker (Chief Legal Council) – “The provisions of DJE are Part III – Subsection B.4. That contemplates a non competitive selection process for professional services. It’s a little tenuous within the policy because it refers to a different section.”
    DJE Part III
    Subsection A – Competitive Selection of Vendors for Capital Projects
    Subsection B – Competitive Selection of Vendors for Non-Capital Projects
    Subsection C – Exceptions to Competitive Selection

    Subsection B.4 says, “Contracts for professional services 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.”
    I read that to mean lowest bid may not be the best method, but a full assessment may be required. That doesn’t mean to skip the bidding process. That means bidding and using a rubric for a full assessment. This is NOT in the exceptions to competitive selection in Subsection C.

  20. fed up with HR excuses

    The board has one employee. And he is an employee. Please instruct him to find out the following:
    We have 6000 teachers according to the DCSD website.
    How many teachers were hired last school year that involved this international contract.? What is the % of total number have been hired with the use of these contracts? How many have been retained year over year and how many have left? Who was hired after the money ran out? Who gave the okay to utilize non-budgeted funds for new hires once the budget expense was tapped out? Where did that money come from (allocated)? What didn’t happen because this ran over budget almost a million?
    Stan Follow the money it’s the only way to find anything out in this county. Bring it up over and over. It may not be good politikin’ but it’s what needs to happen on this issue as well as many others.

  21. We will have about 6,500 teachers when school starts Aug 10. Last year the International Teachers services agreement was split between IN-TALAGE and Global Teachers. Last year’s contract was for $3 million and they spent $3.78 million on 58 teachers. I asked how that happened and was it approved by the board? The administration said they will have to do a “deeper dive” and look into that.
    What is the % hired? I don’t know, but that is probably very low. Most “International Teachers” are H1B.
    DeKalb Schools was $10 million under on instruction. We were supposed to spend $10 million more on instruction than we did. I think the board and administration are tired of me harping on that number. Hopefully I can report some good news on that front over the next couple of months.

  22. Stan, I was disappointed to learn that the vote to approve this contract for “international” teachers was approved by a 5-1 vote. That means that my District 4 representative, Jim McMahan voted to approve this contract. Since his first election, I have agreed with his vote few times and once again I am disappointed in him. I agree with ShooShee that the only way that we will change the majority of this school board is at the ballot box. I vote and will vote as long as I live and I will continue to vote for change in District 4 and in the school board.
    Most government agencies require that a formal RFP be issued as do most large businesses for bids above a certain amount, usually about $100,000. The process is normally very open and follows strict rules. Such a process benefits the party issuing the RFP and promotes open competition with no bias toward any party. More importantly, the product/service obtained is of a better quality and all parties respect the process. And not all bids require the selection of the low-cost proposal, but rather include a number of selection parameters. And personnel services are often use the RFP process when outside contracts are involved – it does not fit the way that Dekalb does business. That RFP process was abandoned in the search for a superintendent and it was not followed in this case and Dekalb County will be the poorer. This administration will not get any better, it will not change, the performance of our school system will not change, and we will continue to bring up the rear in all categories until this school board starts to do its job and discharge its responsibilities to the public. As I commented on DSW2 months ago, I have lost hope in the DCSS and will support change that gives us alternatives to the DCSS. Right now, it is the only game in town and we in Dekalb have no other choice short of expensive private schools. We are going to change that. I don’t often agree with Senator Fran Millar and Rep. Tom Taylor, but I do strongly agree with their efforts to create new choices for the residents of Dekalb.

  23. Two things: In reading this transcript we find, “We currently find ourselves with four days before children report, is to find qualified staff at our schools regardless of the vendor they come from.”
    So – it was the old “it’s an emergency!” ploy — the same one often used by Dr. Lewis to hire or buy whatever he wanted. Interesting. Ward-Smith was unable to do her job (or chose not to do her job) and so was able to hire a third party to do her job for her as it had become an ’emergency’. Ward-Smith learned well from Lewis.
    Second, Ward-Smith revealed that each of the two firms hired last year hired 29 teachers (58 teachers). We can recall that those original contracts called for the hiring of 45 teachers combined. Now, the $64,000 question is – how, since they went $780,000 over budget, why was there never an additional request for more funding from the board? Was money transferred from the general fund to this fund? (ie; teachers that were needed, but were not hired from the general fund?) Who were these original 45 teachers? What teaching positions did they fill? Who were the additional 13 teachers? What positions did they fill? The additional cost appears to be due to these additional teachers – NOT in the extra cost for more highly qualified teachers as Ward-Smith stated. Why didn’t Ward-Smith request more money from the board to hire an additional 13 teachers? The contracts the board approved explicitly stated that they were for 45 teachers and would not exceed $3,005,000. The general fund is not a bottomless pit. You have to ask for more money to be allocated if and when you need it. Isn’t it illegal to overspend a budget of taxpayer money?

  24. fed up with HR excuses

    I too would like to know the answers to the questions Shooshee brought up. If you look at PATS today, there are 200 teacher positions available. Some are recently available, but most are prior to the month of July. There is no reason why there is 200 teachers missing that will be filled with International teachers in the math/science fields. There is an issue with these teachers and the fact that if they can not communicate well with students, students will not learn. And for anyone who says this may be a little thing and kids will adapt and find a way to learn the material, fyi, it falls to the parents to do the teaching. Not supporting, teaching.

  25. Stan, I also would like to get answers to the questions that ShooShee asked. Getting to the point where school is about to start and having HR come before the school board in a state of panic to get emergency approval to hire teachers from outside firms is not new – it has been going on for years. ShooShee and Fed Up ask some very good questions, but I think that it is time for this school board to step up and understand just why HR just seems to be unable to do its job in placing teachers that IT recruits, that IT interviews, that IT conducts background checks, that IT reviews the candidate’s education and skills and compares it to what is needed in the classroom. What specific actions did HR identify vacancies that needed to be filled? Which colleges and universities did they visit and how many prospects did HR interview? How many offers did they make? Why, specifically, could HR not fill vacancies with candidates that IT chose? What specific actions did Ward-Smith take over this past year to prevent the need for going outside? What is the educational background of each “international teacher” (name of college, degree received, etc.)? What action has HR taken to insure that each of these “international teachers” speak English clearly and in a manner that our students can understand? How many of these “international teachers” taught in Dekalb last year? Of the teachers who began the 2014-2015 year, how many are returning for the 2015-2016 year? Why did those who left choose to do so?
    Stan, these are our kids that we are talking about. Their future is at stake. I have long felt that we need to make teaching positions in Dekalb County highly sought-after positions. We can afford to pay qualified teachers to teach in our classrooms, we can restore their TRA benefits, we can put them in charge of our classrooms, and we can give them the latitude to do their jobs. We can reward outstanding performance in the classroom. We can reduce the size of our classrooms and we can give all of our students current textbooks. But to do that, we must set our priorities on the classroom and not on administrators and not on lawyers. Can this school board tell all of us why it is not being done?