Sunday, March 21, 2010

More Copier Crime and Schools: Jefferson Parish, The Big Easy


'...The school system is getting fleeced by these copy people," board member Mark Morgan said, referring to what school officials estimate is more than $600,000 in copy machine overcharges over the past five years..."

Board President Gene Katsanis thinks that schools might have lost as much as $1 million on their copier contracts over the past 15 years.

He and others want to hear from principals who signed leases for the machines without authorization.

"Some of the principals are telling me they are in dire straits over the copy situation," Katsanis said.

"Some of them can't pay the bills, and they never will be able to pay the bills.

The situation down in Louisiana, sums up like this:

For decades, school principals had been initiating and signing copier contracts for their school.

Each school individually driving the purchasing process reportedly the principals "did not have authority" to sign the leases.

Although there is a state approved vendor/manufacture list, principals where sourcing from one of six, separate, local dealers.

This past summer, it was "discovered" that the schools were paying too much for copiers and overages.

One of the suppliers, Bell Office Machines, did a quick analysis of the current purchasing procedures - this analysis should not be confused with a MPS study.

Mr. Poole, owner of Bell, promptly reported to one of the board members, Ray. St. Pierre, his findings: "They can't get out of the leases," Poole said. "School after school is locked into tons of money."

"The agreements that principals had been signing for their own schools' copiers typically had non-cancellable clauses, lasted five years and were re-sold to third-party financing companies, St. Pierre, said.

Supported by these findings and at the recommendation of Mr. St. Pierre, the board required all schools to source future copier leases through a single dealer; coincidentally enough, Bell Office Machines.

It should be noted that Bell Office Machines has been selling copiers to the school system's central office for the past eight years - Eight Years.

While nobody questions Mr. Poole's "findings" - interest is being focused on the relationship between Mr. Poole and Mr. St. Pierre - golfing buddies for the past two years, Mr. St. Pierre reported not knowing what Mr. Poole did for a living until this past summer.

At some point, Mr. Poole struck up a conversation regarding the school district's copiers and Mr. St. Pierre liked what he heard - I imagine this occurring on the 19th green - this no doubt, led to Poole examining the districts practices.

So, not only is there a ruckus over bad copier deals, there is some question as to the shady deal allowing Bell Office Machines to become soul supplier. This deal apparently built upon on a golfing relationship.

Of course, it gets worse.

Further investigation reveals that Poole is a contributor to St. Pierre's political campaign - huh.

"We need to take it out of the hands of the principals," board member Martin Marino said.

"They're ripping us off," Katsanis said of the other vendors. "And I don't want to do business with people who are trying to take advantage of us."

Again, this stuff just can't be made up...delicious!

Sources:

Cut down cost of copiers for Jefferson Parish schools: An editorial

Overcharging, favoritism alleged in Jefferson Parish schools copier contract

Copier controversy continues in Jefferson Parish schools

DOTC stories about Copiers and Crime: Here.


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1 comment:

  1. Blog looking good. I keep telling everyone the tipping point has begun. Two more data points..I changed the look on my blog and so did you.

    Anyway, school systems have always been sheep ready to be fleeced. the education system is getting reorganized as we speak. And about time.

    I can't see what I'm missing in thinking you MSP guys should focus like a laser beam on edu and health for MPS.

    Yea, i know, "it's so hard to get into edu. The globals have it locked. The relationships are impossible to break. The sales cycle is forever. bla blah."

    Thing is the writing is on the wall. When Health Care passed it's a new ball game. For better or worse the guy in the WH is not fooling around. So that means edu reform is going move much faster than many think. Yea I know, it's never gonna change....blah blah..

    Same bullshit I heard about the Market and HealthCare and lots of other stuff. The talking heads don't get it. But they will.

    Meanwhile that means edu is going to be back in play. When Google beats Microsoft for LA email and 93 teachers get fired in Rhode Island something is going on.

    Right now there is an enormous wave of fear and dread sweeping through every level of edu. Fear and dread is usually the best opportunity to sell people stuff they haven't bought before.

    Just sayin'

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