State Sen. Eddie Melton (D-Gary) released the following comments after it was revealed that the Distressed Unit Appeals Board (DUAB) knew about former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s ties with the consulting group charged to address Gary Community School Corporation’s (GCSC) financial crisis.
“I was greatly disturbed to learn about former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s connections with the consulting group hired to address GCSC’s financial problems especially since these ties were known and not shared by certain members of the DUAB before MGT Consulting was selected as the Emergency Manager.
“This is deeply troubling because many of the reasons why GCSC is facing such financial issues are because of the anti-public schools policies put in place by the state’s former superintendent and republican legislative supermajorities. This includes the Roosevelt High School takeover in Gary that drained millions of dollars from the school corporation. Additionally, Tony Bennett’s poor judgment, indicated by his ethics violations and alleged favoritism toward schools operated by GOP donors, show that he should have no part in the rebuilding process of this school district.
“Voters in Indiana overwhelmingly rejected Bennett’s brand of education reform in his race for a second term and replaced him with Glenda Ritz. The citizens and legislators of Gary deserved to be informed of the connections Bennett has with the consulting group the state hired and is paying millions to do an important job of educating our children.
“The governor’s administration has oversight of DUAB, and their lack of transparency has me questioning critical decisions made about Indiana schools and their students. DUAB welcomed public input where Gary residents could weigh in on the selection of several firms that bid on the emergency contract with the state. The citizens resoundingly advocated for firms other than MGT, at least one of which had direct experience with working in the Gary community. Ultimately, their input was essentially ignored by DUAB’s selection of MGT.
“The lack of transparency and forthrightness by certain members of DUAB would be concerning to most and would not stand up to any sincere audit of the facts. Considering this, I suggest the governor and members of DUAB immediately rescind MGT’s contract. These matters must be corrected through a fully transparent process with the goal to reinstate the trust and confidence of those whom we all hope to better represent and whose precious tax dollars deserve to be better managed.”