Wednesday, October 29, 2014

IPS Board Member's Conflict Of Interest Erupts Before Election

The conflict of interest problem faced by board members of the Indianapolis Public Schools whose seats have been or are about to be bought by out-of-state education profiteers has been a topic of conversation on this blog for the past couple of weeks. As costly campaign fliers fill our mailboxes in support of the three Stand For Children-backed candidates, a contract with one of those education profiteers and an IPS board member employed by that contractor has erupted in spectacular fashion just one week before this year's election.

According to the IBJ, the IPS board a week ago approved a $750,000 a year contract with Teach Plus, the employer of IPS board member Caitlin Hannon, who serves as the organization's local executive director, on a 3-2 vote. Hannon, whose seat was bought and paid for by out-of-state education profiteers two years ago, abstained from the vote. Now IPS Board President Annie Roof, who is locked in the at-large race against several candidates, including Stand For Children-backed candidate, Mary Ann Sullivan, is calling a special meeting to reconsider the vote on that contract after she learned IPS had already started using Teach Plus' services before the board had even considered their contract. The IBJ explains roofs rationale for the special meeting:
Roof said the election is not the reason for the meeting. While she voted for the contract last week, she said she was troubled to learn IPS had launched the program before the board formally voted. Approximately two dozen “teacher leaders” have already begun their new assignments, which come with extra pay.
“I’m just trying to make sure everybody is comfortable with the decisions that are being made and we’re all on the same page,” Roof said. “I am not comfortable that there wasn’t a vote on the contract (before it was rolled out in the schools). There’s no election politics in this. We’re just doing our jobs.”
Board member Diane Arnold, who voted in favor of the contract, said the situation probably could have been handled better but thought it would be a mistake to reverse the vote. A no vote from Brown, who often is at odds with Hannon on the board, could make the vote a tie and put the program in jeopardy.
Arnold said she hopes the meeting is just a discussion, but thinks some of her fellow board members want to re-vote.
Naturally, Stand For Children's local paid advocate, Justin Ohlemiller, is sounding the alarm bells at the thought of the board re-considering its contract with Teach Plus. Although Hannon is in charge of Teach Plus' local operations and IPS' contract would be its largest in the state of Indiana, the IBJ says the contract included a conflict of interest form completed by Hannon stating that she would not be involved in payments for the services provided under the contract. Under the program, teachers at three of the school district's most troubled schools are provided additional pay and responsibilities to improve the schools' performance. The Lilly Foundation donated $1 million to the school district for the program.

Just to remind you one more time, unless you want to hand total control of IPS to the out-of-state education profiteers, do not vote for any of the Stand For Children-backed candidates, including Mary Ann Sullivan, Kelly Bentley and LaNier Echols. All three have a conflict of interest in serving on IPS' board because of where they earn their money during their day jobs. Sullivan is an education consultant for hire, Bentley is a consultant for GreatSchools and Echols is dean of students for Carpe Diem charter school, which is run by an out-of-state, for-profit company. Don't believe the lies these out-of-state interests are writing about these three candidates in their massive direct mail effort and advertising blitz on their behalf. These out-of-state interests aren't spending this much money on our school board race out of the goodness of their hearts.

UPDATE: The IPS board voted 4-1 to rescind the vote approving the contract. The board's concern focused on how the program got implemented in August even though their initial vote approving the contract didn't happen until a week ago. Caitlin Hannon, an executive employee of Teach Plus abstained, but she became the subject of a shouting match between two board members as Fox59 News reports. Diane Arnold accused other board members of voting to rescind the contract because of Hannon, which led to an angry rebuke from other members. Board member Sam Odle was absent from the meeting as he often is.


Flogger said...

Indiana and Indianapolis in particular must appear to have the look of ancient Rome in 455 CE when the Vandals descended upon it. The Vandals looted the City of Rome for 14 days. The Vandals had been preceded in 410 CE by the Goths in sacking and looting Rome. The once vaunted Roman Military Machine was a hollow echo of it's former self.

Everything must appear to these modern Barbarians the tribe of Crony-Capitalists in Central Indiana as ripe for the plucking. The list seems almost endless of schemes and deals legal or not that our Political Leadership eagerly engages in. The Democrats and Republicans are like the ancient Goths and Vandals different names but the goal is the same.

Our Judicial System stands by and watches the pillage. Sadly it seems there is no one who is looking out for the people.

Anonymous said...

good old catholic school...

Independent 1 said...

I do not know anything about “Stand for Children,” but I am familiar with the record of Mary Ann Sullivan.
Ms. Sullivan broke with Pat Bauer and the teacher lobby to support Republican education reform in the 2011 Legislature. Although Ms. Sullivan is a teacher by profession, the teacher lobby went out of its way to endorse her opponent, Republican Brent Waltz, in 2012.
I cannot think of a politician that I would trust more than Mary Ann Sullivan.