Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Disparity Study Flawed and Reveals Unequal Playing Field for Black Contractors, says Committee
|Organizations to discuss dismal spending history of MDCPS and other local governmental organizations|
Independent study reveals that less than 8% of MDCPS
construction and design contracts awarded to black-owned firms
The Committee for Fair and Equitable Distribution of Public Contracts has released a report examining and challenging the accuracy of the vast majority of the findings in the Miami-Dade County Public Schools’ Disparity study. The in-depth study, Leveling the Playing Field: A Response to the Miami-Dade County Public Schools Disparity Study Report, was sponsored by the Urban League of Greater Miami, the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP, and BAC Funding Corporation. The findings will be publicly released to the business community during a press conference and community meeting on Wednesday, September 10th from 6PM – 7:30PM at Freedom Hall of the Urban League offices located at 8400 NW 25th Ave, Miami.
The findings along with 15 recommendations were presented to Superintendent Alberto Carvalho who agreed with 13 of the 15 recommendations and gave a commitment to provide a letter of agreement to implement the recommendations. However, the Superintendent he has not kept on his word, and the Committee is urging the Superintendent and MDCPS that promises made should be promises kept. The Committee also urges the Office of the Inspector General to review the report.
The response provides substantiating evidence that the disparity study commissioned by MDCPS is flawed, unreliable, and troubling based on errors and omissions found and a review of the District’s dismantled Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) program. As the fourth largest school district touted as a “truly global multi-cultural and multi-ethnic school system” with black students accounting for nearly 23.5% (82,939) of the district’s 353,152 students, MDCPS has established a pattern and practice of denying African-Americans fair and equitable contracting and sub-contracting opportunities in its procurement and construction contracts. An investigation of the District’s procurement practices revealed that of the $7.5 billion in total procurement expenditures from 1986 to 2009, African-American firms received less than two percent of those contracts ($107.7 million). Black firms also received less than eight percent of the $7 billion spent in construction and design contracts ($546 million) well behind Hispanic firms that received 27% and non-minority firms that received 60%.
“Promises made should be promises kept,” says T. Willard Fair, President & CEO of the Urban League of Greater Miami. “This is not isolated to being just a black issue; this is a fairness issue and anyone who is in support of fairness whether white, black, women, Hispanic or any other group should be concerned and outraged.”
Superintendent Carvalho embarked on an aggressive campaign visiting black churches, speaking with black media, and meeting with various groups to garner the black vote all in an effort to convince voters to approve a $1.2 billion bond referendum. He committed that the bond initiative would provide economic development and employment opportunities to the tune of 9,200 jobs during the first three years, would promote greater public/private partnership ventures, and would provide citizen advisory and oversight committees to ensure timely and equitable distribution of projects. Instead, MDCPS and the Superintendent has moved in the opposite direction of making good on those promises of inclusion and diversity in contracting, and there has been little to no participation by African-American subcontractors to date.
“We will not stand to see our community continue to be left out of opportunities that have the potential to create sustainable economic development in our community,” shares Adora Obi Nweze, President of the Miami-Dade Branch of the NAACP. “We will hold the Superintendent and the school board up to their commitment so that black-owned firms have equitable contracting opportunities.”
The Bond Construction Program is a prime opportunity for MDCPS to invest in the growth and development of its local M/WBEs, and it would be irresponsible and destructive not to do so. The Committee, comprised of small business owners, financial investors, developers, and community leaders, recommends that MDCPS reject its Disparity Study and place an immediate moratorium on the Bond and Capital Construction Program. As the largest government unit and job creator in the County overseeing a massive budget of over $5.6 billion dollars in public funds, MDCPS and the Superintendent is urged to step up and demonstrate its commitment to fairness and equality.
William DC Clark, president of ICARE, cautions that when reading the MDCPS disparity study, be aware that the study was originally slated to cover the 2005-2011 fiscal year but the District realized that by moving the study up a year, to 2006-2012, would reflect black contractors receiving more contracts. Clark also asserts that "the District also tried to hide almost a billion dollars in Maintenance contracts under the heading of Procurement because they knew that Black Contractors didn't receive one penny of those Maintenance contracts. Also, there are no Blacks on the Emergency contract list, which amounts to millions of dollars. This does not only adversely affect black contractors but the Black Community as well."
Media, business leaders, and concerned community members are invited to attend the press conference and community meeting. Links to the summary findings of the study are included below.