Gary Meier Cancels Controversial Contract

Gary Meier Cancels Controversial Contract

(C. Proxmire, Nov. 10, 2012)

Citing The Ferndale 115 News story and a negative community response, Ferndale Schools Superintendent Gary Meier announced at the Monday Nov. 5, 2012 Policy Committee meeting that he had cancelled the contract between his own private consulting firm ICE and the school district.

ICE, a company Meier started in 2009,  is the middleman between Michigan Future and Ferndale Schools.  As is explained in our Nov. 3, 2012 story, Meier’s private business profits while contract provisions allow him to use Ferndale School staff, supplies and other resources to conduct ICE business.  There is no method of accountability for how much resources go to this, and for their un-tracked efforts the school district is reimbursed $180,000 a year.  (Read http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/11/03/what-is-so-special-about-the-superintendents-contract/ for the details)

On Nov. 5 Meier announced that he was going to cancel the contract, taking the Michigan Future money elsewhere.  Because Meier’s personal contract with the district was changed to permit outside consulting he will still be benefiting from, and working, on the $370,000 a year Michigan Future contract.  He will  just no longer passing on $180,000 of it to the district.

He can still do the consulting, it will just have to be done on his own time, and the School District will not be working for him on it.

On the morning of  Nov. 6 area reporters got a short email texted from School Board President Keith Warnick’s cellphone:  “CLEAR candidates cost district half million in revenue.  Superintendent cancelled ICE FPS consulting agreement.  Will sell services elsewhere.”

He referred to the four School Board candidates who were running against him and three others in the election that very day.  The candidates who had been endorsed by the CLEAR Political Action Committee won the election, and come Jan. 1 Warnick will no longer be on the Board.  The amount refers to the entire length of the contract, which is three years.

After the Nov. 5 announcement and the Nov. 6 text, questions arose as to whether Meier could simply cancel the contract because he was upset over it being discussed by members of the public and the press.

The contract, downloadable at http://oaklandcounty115.com/?attachment_id=11353, states that 90 day notice must be given by mail with a receipt, and that both parties must sit down to discuss the termination before it is implemented.

The topic of the ICE contract has been abundantly discussed by Warnick and other candidates on both slates that were running in this election. In October there were three candidate forums, including this one hosted by Citizens for Fair Ferndale – http://oaklandcounty115.com/2012/11/02/cff-school-board-candidate-forum-recorded-by-keith-dalton-video/.  During the forums Warnick and the other incumbent School Board members praised the ICE contract as a creative way to bring money to the district.  Not once did Warnick mention that Meier had given notice to cancel it.

However, Warnick now says that he received written notice from Meier on October 1, and that the contract will expire on Jan. 1, coinciding with the changing of the School Board leadership.

Warnick told journalist Catherine Kavanaugh of The Daily Tribune that notice had been received.  The quote is part of their Nov. 7 story on the issue, which can be found at http://www.dailytribune.com/article/20121107/NEWS01/121109717/retaining-ferndale-students-is-job-no-1-of-new-board?pager=full_story.

“The contract states any changes or cancellations have to come within a 90-day period,” Warnick told Kavanaugh. “I got a letter Oct. 1. In his weekly superintendent notes he (Meier) will present it to the rest of the board.”

Communications Director Stephanie Hall responded to inquiries by stating that she was out of the office, and that on Monday the District will respond to requests for more information, including documentation of when notice was actually given.  In the requests Meier was also asked to comment, and if he does this story will be updated.  We have also communicated with Warnick, though he has not yet provided any more insight or comment on the situation.

The  CLEAR candidates who won the Nov. 6 election – Amy Butters, Jim O’Donnell, Reylon Leaks-May and Kevin Deegan-Krause – have all expressed hope that the exiting School Board Members will continue to be involved in the District and that everyone can work together to continue moving Ferndale Schools further.

“All we wanted was transparency,” said O’Donnell.  “Our concerns with the contract could have been easily remedied by adding some mechanism for tracking and accounting, but instead he decided to cancel it rather than discuss it.”

For more information on Ferndale Schools visit http://www.ferndaleschools.org.

 

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