Join us at the PEP meeting near City Hall to protest this immoral and possibly illegal contract.
2. Verizon is seriously implicated in the recent scandal in which the Special Commissioner of Investigation found that a consultant named Ross Lanham in charge of school internet wiring stole $3.6 million dollars from the city through a false billing scheme, and that Verizon “facilitated this fraud.” Though DOE admits that “Verizon is in discussion with the DOE regarding repaying of the overcharges,” the company has not yet agreed to pay back any of this money, and the case has been referred to the US attorney’s office for possible prosecution. Why should DOE reward Verizon by paying the company more millions?
3. In the same document in which the DOE outlines the contract, there are twenty other instances listed of suspicious or illegal behavior on the part of Verizon, triggering numerous investigations.
4. All NYC public schools are already wired for the internet; but according to the DOE, this second round of wiring is for high-speed internet and hi-definition video to facilitate the expansion of online learning and computerized testing. This is occurring at the same time as budgets are being cut to the bone, schools are losing valuable programs, and class sizes are rising to the highest level in over a decade. A quarter of our elementary schools are so overcrowded they had waiting lists for Kindergarten. It is outrageous that in the midst of this budget crisis, the DOE should be spending $120 million for unnecessary technological upgrades when children do not have seats in their neighborhood schools.
5. Finally, this contract with Verizon began on January 1, 2011, and DOE is only now asking for the PEP to approve it “retroactively.” But there is no allowance for retroactive contracts in state law, unless the chancellor finds that due to an emergency, it is necessary for “the preservation of student health, safety or general welfare” and provides a written justification. This was never done in this case. Thus, this contract with Verizon is likely illegal on the face of it.