Acting Education Secretary Thomas Gluck wants the state auditor general to investigate Superintendent Arlene Ackerman's decision to award a minority-owned firm a $7.5 million emergency contract to install security cameras in 19 schools after district officials failed to provide information he requested.
The district was given nearly two weeks to explain how Mount Airy-based IBS Communication got the job, how the district cancels contracts and how the project was funded.
In his letter to the Bureau of School Audits sent yesterday, Gluck said the district's report failed to show how the project was considered an "emergency."
"These unexplained items in the District's report suggest that this matter should be examined more closely, and in a way that is beyond the resources of the Department of Education," he said.
District spokeswoman Shana Kemp declined to comment, citing an ongoing internal investigation.
But in a written response to Gluck, district counsel Michael Davis said that a contract was never actually awarded to the white-owned Security and Data Technologies, the Newtown Township-based company that the Inquirer reported received the contract before Ackerman stepped in.
Therefore, he said, the district couldn't provide documents relating to its decision. He said that interactions "occurred orally" between district officials and SDT.
"Since SDT never performed any work on the project, there are no documents that show that the District requested SDT to cease work," he wrote.
When a district team decided going through a competitive bidding process would take too long, they contacted SDT, a "state-approved" vendor, who submitted a proposal for the project, the letter read.
He said IBS, which installed security cameras inside South Philadelphia High last school year, was selected after Ackerman asked whether a minority business was involved in the selection process.
Meanwhile, state Rep. Michael McGeehan, a vocal critic of Ackerman's contract dealings, said a forensic audit of the school district by the auditor general is "long overdue."