Breaking News

De Soto board signs off on superintendent’s million-dollar technology purchase

Updated: 2013-10-04T21:44:59Z

By KAREN DILLON

The Kansas City Star

The De Soto school board agreed in a 5-2 vote Friday morning to pay almost $1 million for a wireless technology system that was never competitively bid.

In an early morning meeting, Superintendent Doug Sumner apologized for confusion surrounding the purchase.

“Nobody regrets this more than I do,” Sumner said.

The vote ends almost two months of hand-wringing over what to do with the equipment Sumner bought for $926,624 without seeking bids. Board policy requires bids for products that cost more than $20,000.

Some board members also thought state law might have been violated.

“A mistake was made,” said board member Bill Fletcher, who along with Scott Hancock voted no. “Was the law violated? I don’t know. It’s up to the (Johnson County) district attorney, and we never got a ruling from him. For the taxpayers, we need to move forward.”

The district attorney’s office has declined to comment on the matter.

The board voted in July to move ahead with a wireless Internet system that will allow students to bring devices such as cellphones and tablet computers to work with at school. Less than two weeks later, the equipment had been delivered. It’s been sitting in an old schoolhouse the district uses as a warehouse.

Eventually, Sumner voided the check, but on Wednesday, he said, he talked with manufacturer Cisco Meraki and learned that the company would not take back the equipment.

The board had two choices at its emergency meeting Friday — sign off on the purchase or withhold approval. Either way, the district would have to pay the almost $1 million tab.

Sumner told the board he would follow the $20,000 policy in the future.

To reach Karen Dillon, call 816-234-4430 or send email to kdillon@kcstar.com.

Deal Saver Subscribe today!

Comments

The Kansas City Star is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

The Kansas City Star uses Facebook's commenting system. You need to log in with a Facebook account in order to comment. If you have questions about commenting with your Facebook account, click here