Superintendent’s friends get over half a million dollars behind closed doors

Blue Sky landed a $98,500 contract in 2014 to develop an “IT governance strategy”. The contract’s term ran from July 1, 2014 to June 30, 2015. However, the contract was reduced to $48,500 in October. The board approved the contract on another 7-0 vote in executive session on a motion made by Ms. Aultman. Payment records obtained through a public records request state that MDE paid Blue Sky $245,299 from May 15, 2014 to February 18, 2015. (See the first two pages of the documents posted below.)

The board switching from hiring Blue Sky to hiring Dr. Porter as a contract employee. The board voted 7-0 in executive session (on a motion made by Rosemary Aultman) to hire Dr. Porter for consulting services to review the Office of Technology and Strategic Services and conduct a nationwide search for a Chief Information Officer for $96,454.

The contract term began on January 20, 2015 and was scheduled to expire on June 30, 2015. However, the contract was terminated on June 2, 2015 when Dr. Porter became Chief Information Officer, and thus an employee of MDE. MDE records state that Dr. Porter was paid $88,020 from February 27, 2015 to June 30, 2015 as a contract worker.

Thus, MDE paid Dr. Porter individually and his company Blue Sky Innovative Solutions, LLC $333,319 from May 2014 to June 2015. The contracts ended when the board voted 7-0 to hire Dr. Porter as Deputy Superintendent/Chief Information Officer at a salary of $195,000. The salary was reduced to $183,000 last month after the State Auditor told MDE that the salary was illegal. All votes were taken in executive session. It is not known if any of the contracts were advertised for competitive bids.

However, the compensation connections between MDE and Dr. Porter do not end with Dr. Porter. Meet Elton Stokes, Jr. and his wife, Sharon Semper Stokes.

Jackson Jambalaya
6/14/16