Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Jury orders Phila. schools to pay firm $2.3 million in bias suit

Jury orders Phila. schools to pay firm $2.3 million in bias suit:

Jury orders Phila. schools to pay firm $2.3 million in bias suit

A federal jury entered a $2.3 million judgment against the Philadelphia School District and the late Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman on Monday, finding that she discriminated against a Bucks County company by steering a $7.5 million no-bid contract to a smaller, minority-owned firm that had not sought the work.
Newtown-based Security & Data Technologies Inc. (SDT) filed the racial discrimination suit after, it said, Ackerman and the School District "deselected" it in 2010 for a contract to install surveillance cameras at 19 schools that the state had deemed "persistently dangerous."
The company, which had begun preliminary work, said Ackerman changed course and ordered the emergency contract be awarded to IBS Communications, which was not on a state list of companies eligible for no-bid contracts.
Ackerman told several administrators at a meeting in September 2010 that she was sick of the district's giving work to contractors who she said did not look like her.
John Byars, a former top district procurement official, said Ackerman also said at the meeting that she would make sure that "all these white boys didn't get contracts." She asked why "a black firm [couldn't] get it," and directed that the job be given to IBS.
The case is one of four - and the second that the School District has lost - stemming from a 2010 Inquirer report that Ackerman pushed SDT aside to give the project to IBS.
"My client has been struggling with this fact of being rejected for a contract because of race for nearly six years," said attorney Michael Homans, who represented SDT with Melissa Kay Hazell. "It's been a long, hard journey. Justice was served."
District spokesman Fernando Gallard said Monday night, "We are extremely disappointed with the outcome."
Jesse C. Klaproth, who represented the School District and Ackerman's estate at trial, said he and his clients "plan on exploring our appellate options."
The eight-member panel - consisting almost entirely of white jurors - took four hours to reach a decision following a weeklong trial.
The jury found that the School Reform Commission, which was also sued by SDT, was Jury orders Phila. schools to pay firm $2.3 million in bias suit:

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