$1 million wasted in alleged DISD bid-skirting scheme

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Some Dallas Independent School District employees deserve an ‘F’ for apparently skirting the district’s bidding rules and costing taxpayers at least $1 million.

Some DISD vendors deserve the dunce cap too, for playing along with the alleged scam — and profiting from it.

It began when some of the district’s top technology administrators wanted to contract with a company called IPC Global of Atlanta, Georgia and buy a software program called QlickView from the firm, all to the tune of $5 million.

During an investigation conducted by the outside law firm Locke Lord, attorneys found the purchase was made without going through the proper bid process. This was done because IPC Global was not a district-approved vendor, investigators alleged.

Procurement rules are required both by the school district and by state law.

Perhaps worse, the purchase of the software was deliberately hidden by cloaking the purchase through other legitimate DISD vendors, who were paid close to a million dollars in “service fees” for their cooperation.

The incident was first reported by the Dallas Morning News and Dallas’ WFAA.

From WFAA:

DISD Superintendent Michael Hinojosa says a district employee uncovered the alleged scheme.

“There were situations that occurred that should not have happened,” he said. “We think is was done more out of convenience or pressure to get things done quickly rather than some illicit motive, but regardless, it was still a violation of the law.”

Two senior level officials, Specialized Data Officer Kerri Holt and Assistant Superintendent of Technology, Frank Tyminski, were placed on administrative leave during the investigation… But even though Superintendent Hinojosa says laws were allegedly violated, the investigation did not discover any criminal intent.

Read the Locke Lord investigation here.

At least two senior level employees have been fired. In all, seven DISD employees have been disciplined.

The investigation is ongoing and school officials said if criminal intent is uncovered, criminal charges will be filed.

DISD is second largest school district in Texas and the twelfth largest in the United States.

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Trent is an award-winning editor and reporter, who has previously worked The Denver Post, The (Nashville) Tennessean, and the San Diego Union-Tribune. Most recently, he was the investigative producer for Houston’s KTRK-TV ABC-13. He was also the editor and founder of Texas Watchdog, a ground-breaking news group that paved the way for this project. Trent is a teacher of journalism skills, and has shown hundreds of reporters and citizen-journalists how to use public records, databases and journalism tools to keep a watchful eye on their own local government.

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