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A request for a comprehensive State Legislative Audit of Baltimore County Public Schools’ contracts was sent today to the Baltimore County Senate and House Delegations. The request, which includes five attachments detailing recommendations for the scope of the requested audit, seeks the support of state legislators.
The request was made by four Baltimore County citizens as individuals, who serve on the the Board of Education for Baltimore County Public Schools.
Honorable James Brochin, Chair, Baltimore County Senate Delegation
Honorable Stephen Lafferty, Chair, Baltimore County House Delegation
Baltimore County Delegation
90 State Circle
Annapolis, Maryland 21401
Dear Senator Brochin, Delegate Lafferty and Baltimore County Delegation:
Thank you for consistently demonstrating your commitment to education in Baltimore County. Through your efforts, you have secured the precious funding necessary to ensure that 113,000 students receive the quality education they deserve.
We take seriously the issue of oversight of our school system. It is the responsibility of the Board of Education and school system leaders to ensure that the dollars you help secure are spent wisely, ethically and to the maximum benefit of our students. However, we write to you today as individuals to request your assistance with such oversight and to begin the process of restoring the public trust in the school system’s leadership.
We ask that the Baltimore County Delegation, or the willing portion thereof, submit a request to the Maryland Joint Audit Committee to seek a Special Review audit of BCPS contracts, procurement practices, vendor interactions and ethical compliance by the Maryland Office of Legislative Audits for the timeframe of January 1, 2012 to present. If requested, we are willing to meet with and brief members of the delegation.
While the review of BCPS procurement practices that the Interim Superintendent has initiated is a positive first step, what we believe is needed is more than a standard performance or compliance audit, but a forensic and comprehensive look into contracts and procurement by an outside, independent entity with investigative authority. Second, the board gave no input on the scope, which does not address possible issues of improper vendor influence per the Board’s Ethics Code. Third, the scope only addresses the Office of Purchasing, however several other offices and departments engaged in many varied vendor interactions and were involved in procurement of large education technology contracts. Fourth, the limited timeframe of 2014-2017 does not include several extraordinarily expensive contracts that launched BCPS’ technology initiatives nor the upcoming new contract for 1:1 devices as they are rolled out to all BCPS high school students and teachers. And finally, it is essential that any audit of BCPS be designed and conducted by an independent external entity, not under the direction of the subject of the audit.
Time is of the essence, as BCPS will soon seek board approval on contract awards possibly approaching $200 million as BCPS’ technology initiative enters another large-scale implementation phase. The board votes on the $1.6 billion operating budget on February 6, but the contract may come to the board sooner.
We submit the attached as a recommendation to be included in the scope of the audit.
Thank you for your support and action on behalf of the 113,000 BCPS students and their families, 19,000 BCPS employees, and all Baltimore County stakeholders and taxpayers. We look forward to hearing back from you regarding our request and on working together to meet the many needs of our communities and improve the quality of education in Baltimore County.
Ann Miller, Kathleen Causey, Julie Henn, Roger Hayden
We write as individuals, not as spokesmen for the Board of Education of Baltimore County.
Attachments: BCPS Audit Request 2012-2018, purchasing compliance audit RFP ARA-207-18 with addenda
cc: Governor Larry Hogan
Ed Gilliss, Chairman of the Board of Education of Baltimore County
Verletta White, Interim Superintendent of BCPS