Teachers unions question $27 million no-bid contract (updated)

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New York State United Teachers and the United Federation of Teachers are questioning the state Education Department’s awarding of a $27 million no-bid contract to NewsCorp.’s Wireless Generation, a company headed by former New York City schools chief Joel Klein. The unions said they are also concerned about the contract in light of the NewsCorp. phone-hacking scandal.

“Parents and educators have already begun questioning the wisdom of allowing a News Corp.-owned company to have access to the personal data of students from all across New York,” NYSUT President Richard Iannuzzi and UFT President Michael Mulgrew wrote in a letter to state Education Commissioner John King Jr. and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch.

“Security and privacy are clearly of paramount concern for both parents and educators regardless of the vendor selected by SED and, rightfully so, that concern is significantly heightened when you consider the increasing depth of the current phone-hacking scandal,” they wrote.

The contracted was awarded outside the normal bidding process, and it was handed out soon after NewsCorp. hired Klein.

Copies of the letter, which appears below, were sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. It was sent out late last week.

This is a statement in response to the letter from state Education Department spokesman Tom Dunn:

“Building data tool applications for tens of thousands of teachers, parents, and students on top of a non-proprietary, open source data store is a highly complex project. We stand by our selection of vendor for this work as outlined in the single-source document submitted to the State Comptroller.  The ‘other vendors’ to which the letter refers were responding two years ago to a Request for Information for a much different project separate and distinct from our Education Data Portal.”

Letter to Chancellor Tisch and Commissioner King

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