On Monday a proposed charter school company who says they got shafted by Huffman and Barbic over a bid to run charter schools in Memphis, filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the two for what they claim was a rigged bidding process that favored Barbic’s old company, YES Preparatory Academy. Hmmmm, now where have we read something sleazy like this before? Oh,yeah– Rocky Top Politics:
This time however, the insider dealing with our education tax dollars is far more ethically insidious and potentially criminal. The lawsuit asserts that Huffman and Barbic rigged the authorication process so that only one company could get the contract – the YES Preparatory Academy. And just who is the founder and former CEO of YES Prep? Why, none other than Chris Barbic! Yep, if you can’t deliver millions in no-bid contracts to your former employer like Huffman did, just rig the process.
For those late to the game, Barbic and Huffman worked together at Teach For America in Houston, TX. When Huffman was brought to Tennessee by Bill Haslam, Kevin made sure his old buddy Chris joined the “Rape & Pillage Tennessee Taxpayers”gravy train. Barbic is now the grossly overpaid superintendent of the state’s Achievement School District, which focuses on the bottom 5% of schools, most of which are in Memphis. Barbic gets paid over $230,000 a year and since he began, the improvements in the ASD have been meager to non-existent. In comparison, the superintendent for the best school district in the state, Williamson County, is paid somewhere around $175,000. Of the 130+ school districts in the state, Barbic’s salary ranks #3.
Even if the lawsuit doesn’t go anywhere, the huge issue still left on the table is the grotesque conflict of interest inherent in having Barbic anywhere near a decision that involved a company he founded. Why the hell isn’t this illegal? For all we know, Barbic (or a close relative) still has a financial interest in YES Prep. If this had been road builders bid-rigging contracts, someone would already be in jail.
Instead, the governor goes on record saying Huffman and Barbic were “two of my best hires as governor.” At the rate this is going, the governor might someday be able to reward his “two best hires” with gubernatorial pardons.
At next week’s farcical “Education Summit” will anyone have the courage to confront these miscreants for what they are doing with our tax dollars? Will the legislature finally step up and take action to stop this kind of corruption?
And why hasn’t Huffman been fired? Rep. Womick and 15 legislators signed a letter in June calling for just that and were sneeringly dismissed by the Governor who characterized the letter as just a political stunt.
That letter sure looks different now, doesn’t it Governor?