Bidding Irregularities Uncovered Concerning Jefferson County Schools SEL Training Contract
Image Credit: capturingkidshearts.org
By David Seal [Special to The Tennessee Conservative] –
Jefferson County Schools (JCS) started a contractual business relationship with and made payments to a Texas based vendor to deliver Social Emotional Learning (SEL) staff training fourteen months before bids were advertised for the purchase of that service.
State and Federal Laws require formal bidding on certain purchases made by government entities to ensure that taxpayers receive good value for products and services and to provide vendors with a competitive opportunity.
Two contracts were signed by JCS obligating up to $239,600.00 of taxpayer funds for SEL staff training.
Jefferson County School system officials contend that the bidding process initiated on August 22, 2022, was for “audit purposes only” so their ongoing SEL training contract with Capturing Kids Hearts (CKH) could move from one school year to the next. JCS also stated that bids were not actually for “School Culture Professional Development” as advertised; instead, the bids were advertised to “bid out the existing contract with Capturing Kids Hearts”. This action was reportedly taken by JCS on the advice of a third-party consulting firm during what was characterized as “Pre-Fiscal Monitoring”.
Here is the timeline of contract signing, payments made, and bid advertisements verified by public records and school system emails.
June 18, 2021, Jefferson County Schools sign a $123,600.00 contract with their preferred vendor Capturing Kids Hearts (CKH) for SEL faculty training services, without bid.
July 26-27, 2021, preferred vendor CKH provides faculty professional development service on SEL practices.
August 9-12, 2021, concerned Jefferson County teachers alert the author of this article to certain irregularities and excessive costs of SEL teacher training, investigation commences.
August 12, 2021, Jefferson County Schools request “Sole Source” provider letter from CKH in “dealing with new federal guidance”.
August 23, 2021, [former] JCS School Director receives invitation from preferred vendor CKH to dinner at Chesapeake’s Restaurant, Gatlinburg Tennessee for September 14, 2021.
November 24, 2021, a payment of $16,000.00 was made to preferred vendor CKH from JCS federal funds.
April 5, 2022, a payment of $8100.00 was made to preferred vendor CKH from JCS federal funds.
June 25, 2022, Jefferson County Schools sign a $116,000.00 [second] contract with their preferred vendor CKH for SEL faculty training services, without bid.
June 29, 2022, a payment of $ 9000.00 was made to preferred vendor CKH from JCS federal funds.
August 2-3, 2022, preferred vendor CKH provides faculty professional development service to JCS on SEL practices with more training scheduled during 2022-2023 school year.
August 22, 2022, Jefferson County Finance Office sends email to local print media requesting bid advertisement for “School Culture Professional Development” with a submission deadline of September 6, 2022, at 2:00 PM.
August 22, 2022, Jefferson County Finance Office sends email to Jefferson County Webmaster requesting bid announcement for “School Culture Professional Development” to run until September 6, 2022.
August 28, 2022, referencing the existing contract with CKH, JCS communicates exclusively with preferred vendor CKH requesting that certain elements be included in their bid when submitted “that will give schools data to show how their school culture has improved”. This communication was made 6 business days before bids were opened and not provided to other bidders.
September 6, 2022, at 2:00 PM Finance Office Conference Room, three bids were received and opened, each labeled “School Culture Professional Development”. The vendors submitting bids were as follows: Capturing Kids Hearts, College Station, Texas; Pure Edge Inc., South Hamilton Massachusetts; and Lausanne Learning CFA Education Solutions, Memphis, Tennessee.
September 9, 2022, payment of $90,000.00 was made to preferred vendor CKH from JCS Fund #141-72130-524 (State Funds) for “Other Student Support – Staff Development – Guidance”.
The similarity of three submitted bids calls into question the “Sole Provider” status of CKH.
It is unclear how the SEL bidders from South Hamilton, Massachusetts and Memphis Tennessee learned of the opportunity to bid on the SEL training contract, or if they were made aware that a preferred vendor had already been chosen, and a contract awarded, by Jefferson County Schools fourteen months before they submitted their own bids.
*This article originally appeared in the Jefferson County Post. Republished here due to submission by the author.
David Seal is a retired Jefferson County educator, recognized artist, local businessman, 917 Society Volunteer, and current Chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. He has also served Jefferson County as a County Commissioner and is a lobbyist for the people on issues such as eminent domain, property rights, education, and broadband accessibility on the state level.
One thought on “Bidding Irregularities Uncovered Concerning Jefferson County Schools SEL Training Contract”
Well let’s see;
Tax funds used to train teachers in how to practice and teach Social Emotional Learning
SEL new name for CRT
Parenting is up to parents not public employees