Broward School Officials Accused of Corrupt Ties to Former Teacher’s Union Analyst
The Florida state government has ordered Broward schools to investigate an allegation that some School Board members and administrators may have corrupt relationships with a former employee who now works for a major vendor.
According to the Sun Sentinel, the complaint has prompted the school to hire an outside auditing company and search multiple school employees’ communications.
The Florida Department of Education’s Office of Inspector General received an anonymous complaint on June 13 related to Jillian Haring.
Haring was a former employee, holding multiple jobs in Broward schools, including a stint where she conducted employee investigations. After that, she worked as a two-year strategic analyst with the Broward Teacher’s Union.
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A year later, Haring joined Public Consulting Group or PCG, a firm based in Boston, as a senior advisor. Broward school district records indicate the company has made multiple lucrative agreements with the district, receiving at least $25 million in district contracts. Services included tutoring, staff training, implementing software, assisting with behavioral threat assessments, and locating students who have left the district, records show.
The complaint, obtained by the Sun Sentinel, alleges that these deals were the product of corruption; improper ties between Haring and her former coworkers.
“On several occasions, Jill has utilized her former relationships with Broward County School Board members to pressure district administrators into contracts with Public Consulting Group. This includes contracts which violated procurement law including a multimillion-dollar contract and amendment currently.”
“Start with phone logs and text messages between her and board members as well as the superintendent.”, the complaint read.
When approached by the Sun Sentinel, Teacher’s Union President Anna Fusco was quick to defend her own and blame the district.
“If there was any wrongdoing, it was on the district’s side as always. You know this is all BS. Leave Jillian alone. She’s always been above approach and works with complete integrity.”
Haring and PCG did not respond to the Sentinel’s requests for comment.
The complaint will be forwarded from the inspector general to the school district for review, as state law requires. If the district is “unable or unwilling to address substantiated allegations,” the inspector general must look into the matter. Whether or not an investigation will go forward will likely depend on how the term “substantiated” is defined.
The state has given the district until Oct. 31 to respond, Cassie Palelis, press secretary for the Department of Education, told the Sun Sentinel.
In the meantime, Chief Auditor Joris Jabouin is already getting a jump on the matter. He hired Alabama accounting firm Carr, Riggs & Ingram to review PCG contracts, district spokesman John Sullivan told the Sun Sentinel.
Jabouin also asked some school board and staff members to temporarily surrender their work cell phones to check for communications with Haring while the district combs their emails for the same.
PCG has had multiple contracts with the district over the years, but the School Board has approved some amendments and spending increases since she joined.
The district planned to give BCG another contract this year while forgoing competitive bidding. But not everyone was so comfortable with the relationship. School Board Chairwoman Laurie Rich Levinson, who has since been suspended due to last month’s grand jury report, voiced her concerns about PCG.
“I don’t see a bid that took place. I see again giving it to the same company. This is a company that seems to do everything.”
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