Speaking of Oversight of Abbott Districts,November 18, 2009
NJSBA’s Song of ItselfNovember 18, 2009
The Record went online yesterday with a lengthy expose of Circle System Group, a company that has received millions of dollars over many years from public schools in New Jersey for services regarding sports equipment refurbishment, specifically testing and reconditioning of football helmets. Reports the Record,
About a year ago…its president, David Drill, became a federal felon when he admitted to quarterbacking a massive financial fraud against high school athletic departments in New Jersey, saying that Circle lied about critical helmet safety tests and lavished gifts on school officials.
And Drill is not the only one implicated because school officials accepted bribes (clothing, travel, golf clubs) and “looked the other way” at inflated bills and counterfeit price quotes from competitors. Strangely enough, not an single school official has been named, despite the fact that, according to Record research, about 4 out of 5 school districts in Bergen and Passaic Counties used Circle as their vendor.
One of the reasons that this scam worked so well and over so many years is that state regulations regarding public bidding only applies to purchases under $29,000, and Circle’s price quotes were under the cap. There’s not enough economy of scale within our municipal madness – especially in Bergen and Passaic – to protect local districts against scams that thrive on minimal oversight and small purchases.. It’s yet another reason to get over our love affair with home rule and look seriously at consolidating school districts. We’ll save some money, generate more oversight, and protect our kids’ heads at the same time.