More transparency headed for State Education Department
A bill aimed at increasing transparency at the State Department of Education has been signed into law by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy.
The bill follows the state auditors’ reporting that they are “concerned” with the department’s use of an organization not bound by public disclosure or competitive bidding requirements to help craft and implement the governor’s controversial education reforms from 2012.
“There were some very alarming issues,” Sen. Andrea Stillman, co-chairman of the Education Committee, said on the state Senate floor before the bill was passed.
At issue is the role of the State Education Resource Center, an agency created by the legislature “to assist the (state education board) in the provision of programs and activities that will promote educational equity and excellence.”
The center awarded three contracts totaling $705,000 to various private entities — including an out-of-state, for-profit business — to craft changes to teacher tenure, evaluation and collective bargaining systems on behalf of the administration. The education resource center also handled the contract of a new leader of Windham Public Schools after the state takeover.
But who decided to launch these initiatives and who ultimately paid for them are questions whose answers have not been made public.
“We continue to be concerned,” auditors John Geragosian and Robert Ward wrote in their report, adding that the process the department used “greatly undermines the ability of [the agency] to be transparent and accountable to the people of Connecticut.”