Sunday, August 03, 2014

A Reminder to Our Readers

This is a community forum blog.  To me and Charlie, that means anyone can come and discuss anything relevant to public education from national right down to specific Seattle schools/programs.  We try to guide the conversation but not define it.

You can opine/inform on topics on just about anything in public education. 

We provide open threads for topics that Charlie and I might have missed.

We try to be careful on not talking about issues where we - as the moderators of the blog - have no direct knowledge or have not been given direct information from readers on that issue.

On that point, there is someone (multiple someones, I don't know) that seem to believe something is amiss in a contract(s) granted to a company by SPS.  When this was initially posted, it was vague and a bit smoke and mirrors.  So I asked for clarification which did not come and so I deleted the post because it didn't meet my standard for publication.

Then some other posts, with more specific info came up.  And, I had a couple of readers saying, "Investigate this."

Almost as if that was my job.

I have repeatedly said (and thanked) our readers for tips, heads up, documents, etc.  We could not have this blog without you.

But, it is not my job to follow thru on every item that crosses this blog.  It may be that there isn't enough information for me to go on or that I have no way to verify who sent it or more likely, I just have too many projects on my plate plus keeping up with daily/weekly happenings.

Please do not expect that me or Charlie can just drop everything and "investigate" because you want us to do so.  It takes a lot of time and effort to do that kind of work.

If you want tips on how YOU can investigate issues, that I can give you guidance on.

But please don't make demands on our time.  We have outside lives, too.

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

From: Taguba, Diane G
Sent: Friday, December 13, 2013 4:43 PM
To: McWilliams, Zakiyyah B
Cc: Wright, Charles E; Tolley, Michael F; Klopfer, Pamela; Anderson, Jennifer R; English, Ron; Gotsch,
Kenneth C
Subject: RE: Seattle Request for Special Education External Consultant(s) - Sole Source
Hi Zakiyyah,
Thank you for the email. Given that you have found 6 possible candidates that could meet your
service needs, it seems it would be difficult to justify this contract as a sole source contract. Based
on the sole source considerations listed on the justification form, I don’t believe this will meet any
of the criteria. As I mentioned to you back in November when we spoke about this, Contracts is
able to conduct a condensed informal RFP process that would have proposals back to you in less
than 2 weeks.
Given the potential contract amount (you stated possibly up to $150K), your process does not
follow the District’s Superintendent Procedures 6220SP.D for Contracting for Services. I believe
that this contract can and should be competed in a manner that is in line with our District
procedures through Contracting Services to ensure we are following good business practices,
maintaining a level playing field for competition, and maintaining compliance so to not leave us
vulnerable to a possible audit finding on this.
I have included Ron (Legal) and Ken (Finance) on this so they may weigh in. If you do not intend to
follow the District’s Procedure for Contracting, a formal request for an Authorized Exception to
Superintendent Procedure 6220SP.D should be submitted justifying why your situation requires a
process outside of District procedures. This request should be reviewed and approved by all
impacted department heads with a final approval/authorization from either the Asst. Supt. for
Business and Finance or the Superintendent.
Thanks,
Diane

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Anonymous said...

From: McWilliams, Zakiyyah B
Sent: Friday, December 13, 2013 12:46 PM
To: Taguba, Diane G
Cc: Wright, Charles E; Tolley, Michael F; Klopfer, Pamela; Anderson, Jennifer R
Subject: FW: Seattle Request for Special Education External Consultant(s) - Sole Source
Hi Diane;
I appreciate the support you have offered to the Special Education Department regarding the
RFP process.
Understanding our time frame, I addressed the use of the RFP process with Dr. Douglas Gill,
Director of Special Education for OSPI. He informed me that given Seattle’s short time frame
to make the significant compliance changes outlined in the Special Education
Comprehensive Corrective Action Plan (C-CAP) by June 30, 2013, he assumed we had chosen
to use a “sole source” process. In addition, he stated that in the event of an audit inquiry
regarding the use of a sole source process for external consultant selection, OSPI will
support the district egiven the time constraints that the district is working within.
Please note below a sample of the emails that went out December 9th; however, due to a
technical issue when forwarding from my home, I learned they had not been received so I
re-sent yesterday. Specifically, the email is requesting their submission through an email
response outlining unique service options for Seattle SPED’s scope of work. The deadline to
submit is Monday, December 16, 2013. I’ve attached a list of the external consultants that I
emailed, as well as a sample email (below).
So far, the Council of the Great City Schools and Thomas Hehir have expressed that they may
not submit. Once we receive the responses, Jennifer Anderson and myself will work together
to complete the district’s sole source form for each submission. Then with Michael Tolley
and/or Charles Wright a selection will be made.
Charles Wright wanted me to weigh in with you to make sure that the sole source process
used meets requirements. Let me know. I look forward to hearing from you.
Best regards,
Zakiyyah (Zee) McWilliams
Executive Director
Office of Special Education
206.252.08XX

follow the money

Anonymous said...

From: McWilliams, Zakiyyah B
Sent: Thursday, December 12, 2013 7:02 PM
To: 'drbobpasternack@gmail.com'
Cc: Klopfer, Pamela; Anderson, Jennifer R
Subject: Seattle Request for Special Education External Consultant(s) - Sole Source
Hello Dr. Pasternack;
I am re-sending this communication as I have since learned that when I sent this email out
one week ago, due to a technical cliché, it may not have been delivered.
Our conference call on December 3, 2013 was very informative and I appreciate the time that
you gave to delineate services available with T.I.E.R.S. Consulting. As a result, I would like to
invite you to respond to this email if you are interested in working with Seattle Public
Schools, Special Education Department as a “Sole Source” External Consultant(s).
We will need this individual or individuals to start work with Seattle in early January 2014.
The Scope of Work as outlined for Seattle by Washington’s Office of the Superintendent of
Public Instruction (OSPI) includes the following:
Selection of an individual or individuals with demonstrated expertise in analyzing
relevant data and making recommendations regarding other urban and
metropolitan school districts nationally in the provision of appropriate special
education services.
Please include in your response how your analysis and recommendations will be unique in
assisting Seattle and the cost to provide your services. Can you please respond no later
than12:00 p.m. PST (noon) on Monday, December 16, 2013. You may respond to my
assistant, Pam Klopfer, at paklopfer@seattleschools.org.
Best Regards.
Zakiyyah McWilliams, Executive Director
Special Education Department
Seattle Public Schools
2445 3rd Avenue South
Seattle WA 98134
Leave Messages with:
Pam Klopfer, Senior Administrative Assistant
206.252.00XX

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Anonymous said...

From: McWilliams, Zakiyyah B
Sent: Monday, December 16, 2013 5:50 PM
To: Taguba, Diane G
Cc: Wright, Charles E; Tolley, Michael F; English, Ron; Apostle, Paul A; Klopfer, Pamela
Subject: RE: Proposals Received from the Sole Source Request
Diane
I am really glad that my supervisor, Michael Tolley, came to speak with me and provided clarity per Ron English as to how we could move this to an “RFP LIGHT.” I wish you had explained (as Michael Tolley just did) why you wanted the proposals earlier and I would have given them to you.
He also reminded me to not take all that is said in an email – because often statements may come across in a manner that they were not intended. I will have Pam forward all electronic copies of the 4 proposals that were submitted today to you first thing tomorrow. We received 4. I can send 3 of the 4 to you tonight. The 4th one was only sent to Pam.
Zakiyyah (Zee) McWilliams
Executive Director
Office of Special Education
206.252.08XX

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Anonymous said...

According to the referenced Superintendent Procedure 6220SP.D, "RFP lite" may be appropriate for contracts between $25,000 and $50,000, but according to the posted emails, it seems OSPI would allow a sole source contract in light of the district's need to meet compliance deadlines. According to the procedure, sole source contracts may be justified "where time limitations make it impractical to obtain competition."

reading thepolicies

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
mirmac1 said...

This is a load of horse dung. Why would the district wish to expedite award? Because the clock on the OSEP finding of "needs intervention," started ticking in June 2013.

Does the district regularly write sole source and emergency contracts for exorbitant amounts? Yes. Is this poster on a personal vendetta? Absolutely. Do I take anything he says seriously? No way.

The SPS "penalty" for not following 6220SP is a wet noodle lashing (put a memo in the file); They're about as effective as most OSPI corrective actions. I've seen Ron English be more guilty of breaking 6220SP than any other department head. How else can he keeps his expensive outside counsels squashing employees and families.

I found the TIERS report to be very mediocre, even worse than the 2008 Urban Collective peer review (as if that is possible). The SPS SpEd department has bigger problems to deal with than with this mosquito. I want the district to get help asap on reviewing and implementing improvements in SpEd.

mirmac1 said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

ya you and your girlfriend

boo ho

tryand keepup

Anonymous said...

mirmac1 the SPS mole

Don't feed the mole!

Ha Ha

mirmac1 said...

Need I say more...

Anonymous said...

So, TIERs slips into SPS with the RFP light sole source for a "cheap" contract of $150. But now, a few weeks later, they also have the $450,000 jack-pot prize. Clearly that was always the target.

And look at OSPI and Gil. Bullying the district into accepting a sole source contract to it's associate, to the tune of basically a half a million dollars - all for a bunch of useless consultants that nobody really wants.

And let's not forget McWilliams, who had over a year to do this.... but then had an email glitch and just couldn't send the dubious paperwork in on time?

Makes me want to holler!

Hollering.

Anonymous said...

Data Data Data...

Remember all the rhetoric about data at the TIERS meeting? Look at the TIERS report, see all the references to data?

SPS is preparing to buy software from TIERS other business arm, $750,00 to $1.5 million is the number being thrown around.

It hard to believe people are sitting back and watching these crooks steal money from the kids and in broad daylight !

Who is watching the watchers?

Disgusted

Anonymous said...

How is it that

OSPI/Gil - mandates SPS to hire a "national" consulting firm due to some sort of mythology of special education failure.

OSPI/Gil - then gets to pick who the national consulting firm is???? (CONFLICT OF INTEREST!!!)

Then the SAME group "selected" by OSPI/Gil gets sorts of other perks associated with the OSPI mandate, OSPI/Gil must approve too.

Here's a couple of perks:

1) sole source on the R-CCAP. (hey, why do they get this too???) If the report were so wonderful, wouldn't that mean that ANOTHER fully qualified "consultant" could help the district? Wouldn't it be ETHICAL... if another group did the consulting for the implementation? That way, there would be no direct CONFLICT OF INTEREST!!!!

2) evidently more software


This whole thing is right up there with MGJ's decision to buy the MAP to the tune of millions of dollars PER YEAR, another sole source contract that she had a vested interest in.

What is the "qualification" process of these "national consulting firms"????? Why can't we just hire people in house?


The devil you know....

This is just basic staff!

-Hollering

Melissa Westbrook said...

I will have more to add to this as I wrote to the Board about it.

"Does the district regularly write sole source and emergency contracts for exorbitant amounts? Yes. Is this poster on a personal vendetta? Absolutely. Do I take anything he says seriously? No way."

And you know this how?

Melissa Westbrook said...

I think, for me, the issue is was this contracting done on a tight timeframe or did someone drop the ball/dilly-dally until it was too late to solicit multiple bids?

Seeing these dates, December 13, 2013 and knowing that this was an issue a long time before, I have to wonder.

Melissa Westbrook said...

Also, Ms. Taguba said this:

"If you do not intend to
follow the District’s Procedure for Contracting, a formal request for an Authorized Exception to
Superintendent Procedure 6220SP.D should be submitted justifying why your situation requires a
process outside of District procedures. This request should be reviewed and approved by all
impacted department heads with a final approval/authorization from either the Asst. Supt. for
Business and Finance or the Superintendent."

Was this filed? Because if not, whether a sole contractor was used or not, this was a document that was required to be filed, no?

Anonymous said...

I'm looking at the Personal Services Contract right now. It has the words"
internal document only" written across the top. Why?

The superintendents signature looks like a scribble. It could be a "W" but they didn't know where to fill in the date.Its part of the signature and left blank in the date field.

total $149,385.00
Fund 1A48 cost center 5E424313D0
commitment item 7120

I wish I knew how to post the PDF

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Anonymous said...

From: "McWilliams, Zakiyyah B"
Date: December 27, 2013, 2:08:27 PM PST
To: Doug Gill
Cc: Valerie Arnold
Subject: Fwd: Proposal Clarification Letter for SpEd Consultant
Good Afternoon Doug;
I hope you are taking some time to enjoy the holidays.
Several meetings and discussions occurred after our last conversation
regarding the external consultant selection process. The bottom line, per
the direction of the districts' General Counsel, I was advised to work
with our contracts office on what is being referred to as an "RFP Light"
process by using the 4 proposals that came in from my sole source
solicitation. According to our General Counsel an RFP Light process
would protect the district from agencies with future questions regarding
the fairness of the process if not selected.
That said, each proposal submitted to our office was reviewed by our
contracts office and an individualized letter was sent to each agency
providing clarity regarding the scope of work and requesting additional
information as well as specific revisions to their proposals. The 4 letters
are attached to this email were sent out on December 19, 2013. The
timeline for each agency to make revisions and resubmit is December
30th, this coming Monday. The final proposals will then be reviewed by
me and my supervisor, Michael Tolley, on January 2nd with a final
decision being made either that same day or no later than Friday,
January 3, 2014, and forwarded to you. I will also forward the initial
proposals that were received after the sole source request as an FYI and
for your review.
Best Regards,
Zakiyyah McWilliams
Executive Director
Special Education
Seattle Public Schools

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Anonymous said...

It's obvious reading thru the emails that the TIERS group was performing WORK before the contract was signed on 4-14-2014. I see email evidence in Feb of TIERS working on several items.

There's also many emails on how SPS can select TIERS quickly and circumvent the fair selection process.

Emails show several staff speak out pointing out that this could be a violation, then some director contacts Mr Tolley and accuses that that staff member of making threats! Needless to say the staff member then goes with the flow.

follow themoney

Anonymous said...

On Feb 3, 2014, at 7:44 AM, "Coulter, Alan" wrote:
> OK. If you can rush the contract you'll break a record. My first rule from my higher-ups is always to have the
contract fully executed before the work begins. You can tell that I don't exactly follow that rule because we have
been working hard to get ready. BUT, I know that the team can't travel without a fully-executed contract.
>
> That said, I would have to check with Bob and Deborah on their schedules for the last week in February (I know
that Bob is booked through the third week in Feb). I do know that remainder of the team is booked now through the
first week in March. I'll check on availability and get back to you.
>
> You know that I am eager to get started. But we won't be able to travel without a fully-executed contract

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Anonymous said...

From: Navarro, Diane T
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 9:20 AM
To: McWilliams, Zakiyyah B; Tolley, Michael F
Subject: FW: Seattle Public Schools - CCAP Consultant Contract for your Review
Hi Zakiyyah/Michael,
We had received proposed revisions from TIERS on their agreement and one of the items I noticed
was that they deleted our language for their “right to begin work upon receiving an executed
agreement” and instead backdated the contract effective date to February 1. Have we authorized
them to begin work prior to the contract?
Thanks,
Diane
Diane Taguba Navarro
Direct: 206.252.0XXX
Email: dtnavarro@seattleschools.org

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Anonymous said...

From: Tolley, Michael F
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 11:23 AM
To: Navarro, Diane T; McWilliams, Zakiyyah B
Subject: RE: Seattle Public Schools - CCAP Consultant Contract for your Review
Diane,
Thank you for support of this process and identifying this change. We have not and cannot
authorize them to begin work prior to the contract being approved.

Michael Tolley

Anonymous said...

From: Navarro, Diane T [mailto:dtnavarro@seattleschools.org]
Sent: Friday, February 14, 2014 2:35 PM
To: Jones, Mitze Bruce
Cc: Coulter, Alan
Subject: RE: Seattle Public Schools - CCAP Consultant Contract for your Review
Hi Mitze,
Thank you for the documents. It wasn’t apparent where the changes were made in the Exhibits. Do
you have a redlined document or can you highlight or summarize what changes were made?
We have also reviewed your proposed changes to the main agreement section and the one change
we cannot accept for auditing and authorization purposes is deleting our language in Section 1 and
backdating the contract effective date to February 1. Work cannot commence until a contract is
fully executed so we cannot have the effective date prior to that date. All other changes were
accepted. Let me know if you want me to resend the document.
Thank you,
Diane
Diane Taguba Navarro
Direct: 206.252.05XX
Email: dtnavarro@seattleschools.org

Please note

mirmac1 said...

Melissa, because I know him - and I've seen many SPS contracts issued under dubious circumstances. That is how I've arrived at my conclusions.

mirmac1 said...


OSPI did not formally accept the the C-CAP until November 1. A solicitation for consulting services was sent to a list of consultants early December, with an amended scope of work provided Dec 19. Four proposals were submitted December 30th. Selection was made mid-January. As those of us in contracting know, it takes some time to negotiate, provide necessary documents, review and execute a contract by all parties.

Actually, it is clear to me that the district followed its revised procedures, developed after audits, MAP gate, and Pottergate. The SpEd Exec Dir, knowing nothing about proper contract procurement, made inquiries and properly instructed by the procurement officer. Likewise, the district was firm in holding to NO WORK before the contract was fully executed. I'm sure the paperwork is in the file, because there is are now two checks on this process - one from Procurement and one from Accounting. Again, the worse culprit is Ron English.

It may very well be that OSPI and TIERS have a far too cozy relationship. We have no facts supporting that yet. No use stirring the shizz.

Anonymous said...

The situation with SPS and SPED has been coming for 15 years. This is in no way an "emergency"? OSPI made it very clear they where not going to impose any penalties to SPS for missing the C-CAP deadline and provided an extension.

OSPI did mention having no confidence in the directors of SPED and possibly OSPI where going to force a change at the top.

There are 2 facts supporting this assumption.

1. It's clear the EXEC director is primary in trying to circumvent standard contracting process.
2. Conveniently the consultant continually emphasizes keeping staff and avoiding turn over specifically the EXEC Director.

How convenient to KEEP the hand that feeds you! quid pro quo

Someone here has very cozy relationship with the EXEC Directory and seems overly sensitive to any criticism of her.

follow themoney



Melissa Westbrook said...

"Emails show several staff speak out pointing out that this could be a violation, then some director contacts Mr Tolley and accuses that that staff member of making threats! Needless to say the staff member then goes with the flow."

Send me these e-mails, please. The members of the C&I Committee should see them.

I can only say that even if other contracts have been executed under "dubious" circumstances, that's no reason to let this one go. If everything was done properly, then there is no issue.

Anonymous said...

Here what TIERS really said to SPS leadership! They changed this to provide FAPE after legal intervened.

We agree that closing the achievement gap by August 30 is overly
ambitious and not realistic. The deliverable that we proposed for
Component #3 is an Action Plan for the next 30 months developed
in collaboration with SPS leadership. This Action Plan would reflect
evidence-based practices designed to close the achievement gap
between typical students and students with disabilities in urban
settings. The Action Plan could include a matrix documenting types
of services and triggers for recommending changes in services. We
believe that a 30 month timeframe is the minimum length of time
for SPS to demonstrate the effectiveness of actions taken in closing
the achievement gap. We also acknowledge that closing the
achievement gap in a system of 95+ schools will probably longer to
accomplish.

Does that means nothing will happen this year or next?

NB parent

Anonymous said...

That sort of "nothing speak" is exactly the problem with TIERs and frankly, with OSPI. We hired THEM to help the district FIND those evidence based practices. And we HIRED THEM to figure out the problems and reasonable goals. And, we paid dearly for it. OK. (If we are to believe NB parent) TIERs said it. Closing the achievement gap is unrealistic. Great! What then is the target? We hired a "national expert" for expertise on a national level. Instead we get... you need "another plan". We don't need a national expert to tell us "you need a plan". IF we need the consultants at all, we need them to PROVIDE the plan. What are the evidence based strategies???? When do we use them???? For who??? Oh yeah. We'll have a plan for that. And isn't that exactly OSPI's usual response. Something bad happened? "Well heck! Have another IEP, that will fix it." And by golly, it will take 30 months to see any results, AT BEST. And probably 30 months to develop a plan... add that up. 60 Months. Eg. We will see nothing for our millions of dollars for at least 5 years! (And that means never.) Then, the contract will be over, and we'll probably have all new directors of everything, and only we parents will remember that this ever happened.... Which brings us back to "Forget about what happened in the past, we sure don't remember a thing."

-Hollering

Melissa Westbrook said...

"It's clear the EXEC director is primary in trying to circumvent standard contracting process."

Not really. She seems to not know the process well and Accounting seems to be trying to guide her/teach her the process.

Anonymous said...

Sorry 2500 plus emails show that they knew what they were doing and it
clearly shows collusion to award TIERS that contact. Lets see what the OSPI and LSU emails yield.

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