Posted June 5, 2012
Goffstown School Board Vice-Chair Dian McCarthy voted last night to proceed with a questionable competitive bid process involving her employer The Southeastern Regional Education Service Center (SERESC), located in Bedford NH.
When first confronted by Girard at Large over the potential conflict of interest, McCarthy admitted that she did, in fact, work for SERESC but defended her participation in the discussion over hiring a consultant to review the issues at Mountain View Middle School by noting she did not work in the part of the company involved with those consulting services. (To view the Goffstown School Board’s Conflict of Interest Policy click here.) The following links are to her employer, it’s staff directory, and the program she works for.
In that email, she also stated: “When the time comes to deliberate on awarding a contract, although it is not a contract that would benefit me personally in any way, I will none the less be recusing myself from the discussion and vote.”
While the vote she cast last night was to continue with the process of evaluating bids so that a consultant could be hired, presumably at the board’s meeting on June 18th, the reality remains that had she not voted, the motion to proceed, which passed 4 to 3 with one abstention, would have failed. Because of her vote, her employer, which at one point was publicly identified as the “low bidder” remains positioned to win the bid.
In a news story published by Girard at Large on May 21, 2012, McCarthy reportedly stated she would no longer participate in any discussions regarding this topic. To view that story, click here.
Girard at Large has sent several requests to Goffstown Superintendent of Schools Stacy Buckley under the state’s Right to Know Law, requesting information on the Request for Proposal process used to solicit bidders for these services. Click here and here for those stories. From those inquiries, we’ve been able to determine the following:
That the school board, at no time, either requested, authorized or approved the superintendent’s solicitation of bids prior to her soliciting them;
that there was no formal Request for Proposal (RFP) issued by the superintendent on behalf of the school board;
that the superintendent personally solicited bids from 3 companies;
that the superintendent began interviewing companies, released their names and the cost of their proposals at a school board meeting without a formal public process in place.
that there was no public posting of the desire to solicit these services and no publicly published criterion by which bidders’ submissions will be evaluated.
that media attention has caused other bids to be submitted by an arbitrary timeline with no information as to when bids would be evaluated or subsequent bidders would be contacted for interviews regarding their proposals as had been done with the “hand picked” bidders.
Girard at Large has sent this email to McCarthy requesting she answer for her decision to vote in this matter. We will post her reply if received.
——– Original Message ——–
Subject: consultant conflict
Date: Tue, June 05, 2012 11:35 am
To: “Dian McCarthy”
Attached, please find a copy of the Goffstown School Board’s Conflict of Interest Policy. Inasmuch as you work for one of the known participants in the bid process, I’m writing to ask how you reconcile your vote to proceed with a process that very well may select your employer as the service provider with this policy. Further, kindly explain why it is that you did not publicly declare your apparent conflict of interest and remove yourself from the deliberations.
Your immediate reply to this inquiry is expected and appreciated as we are preparing to go public with a story and would prefer to have your comment.
PS: It is particularly important that you answer this question in light of the email you sent indicating that you would not vote on items regarding this matter. By casting the deciding vote to proceed, you’ve enabled a circumstance where your company could very well win the bid and that action demands a public explanation.