Following 41 Action News investigation, KCPS terminates controversial contract

KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green announced the District is terminating a controversial contract for an estimated $32 million project.

Green revealed the surprising news during an interview on Friday with 41 Action News. The interview had been scheduled to discuss the findings of an internal audit that scrutinized the process surrounding "Project 360," a multi-million effort to make school buildings more energy efficient.

The District ordered the internal audit in the wake of a February 41 Action News investigation , which questioned the bidding process and selection of the winning company, HMM Construction Services.

One of the major requirements of the contract was getting central air conditioning installed at several schools prior to the start of the upcoming school year in August. Green said it became clear recently that HMM would not be meeting that deadline and would likely run over budget.

"I do have reservations about the selection of the firm and we have made a decision not to continue and to dissolve the relationship," Green said.

The superintendent said school board members were informed of the decision at their Wednesday meeting. He added that HMM was informed of the move on Friday.

Green said the decision was made prior to the findings of the internal audit. While he was happy the report did not find evidence of fraudulent activity, he said there were a number of recommendations that need to be incorporated into the District's process.

"I think any good, healthy organization uses this as a teachable moment," he said.

Green said Project 360 will continue without the oversight from HMM as a general contractor. However, the change of direction means the affected schools will not get air conditioning installed until the 2013-14 school year.

"Our haste and our intensity was trying to do the best thing for the children. That was our motivation," Green said. "In hindsight, the timeline in making our selection should have been slowed down."

William Black, a law professor at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, said the decision was appropriate. Black reviewed documents obtained by 41 Action News prior to our initial investigation.

"I'm thankful they reevaluated and killed the contract," Black said. "This was bad. It was wrong. It violated their own rules. It violated common sense. It was a terrible way to do a contract and a very good way to produce a disaster."

Ryan Kath can be reached by email at ryan.kath@kshb.com. You can follow him on Twitter or connect with him on Facebook.
 

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