Saturday, November 17, 2012

MCPS Public Information Director Responds to Parents' Coalition Investigation

Please scroll down for the November 16th e-mail sent to the members of the Montgomery County Delegation to the General Assembly and the Montgomery County Council from the MCPS Public Information Director Dana Tofig.

Here is the November 17th Press Release issued by the Parents' Coalition in response to Mr. Tofig's e-mail. 


Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County
Press Release:
November 17, 2012

The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland has conducted an extensive investigation of Montgomery County Public Schools Superintendent Joshua Starr's proposal to purchase 2,000 Promethean brand Interactive White Boards for $8,949,719
  • Our investigation has revealed that the Resolution that Superintendent  Joshua Starr brought to the Board of Education for approval on September 11, 2012, referenced a Maryland State Hardware Contract that had expired.  Here is the BOE approved Resolution: 
September 11, 2012:  Resolved, That the Board of Education approves the purchase of Promethean interactive classroom technology systems (pursuant to the state of Maryland contract 050B7800023) at a total cost of $8,949,719

  • This week, our investigation revealed that the new Maryland State Master Hardware contract that Superintendent Starr is attempting to claim he will now use to purchase 2,000 Promethean Boards does not include any Promethean brand products.  (This is not the contract that was approved in the Board of Education Resolution and is irrelevant to the Board approved action.)  As our investigation showed, Promethean is not a listed vendor on this new (unapproved) contract.  Interestingly enough, SMART Technologies, a competitor of Promethean is shown on the new state contract. 
  • We contacted the Contract Administrator for the Maryland State Master Hardware Contract and confirmed that Promethean products were not included in the new Master Contract.  They are a product that could be included at a future date, but are not part of the contract as it exists today.  In any event, the Montgomery County Board of Education has not approved the use of this new state contract.
  • To date, Superintendent Joshua Starr has failed to produce any documents that support his request to the Board of Education on September 11, 2012 for an $8,949,719 purchase of 2,000 Promethean brand Interactive White Boards.  

The Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland believes that Montgomery County citizens, the taxpayers, are entitled to see the documents, contracts, and bids to support this expenditure.  
We believe citizens are entitled to all of these things so that it is possible to determine if OUR money is being spent wisely.

Parents' Coalition of Montgomery County, Maryland

From: Tofig, Dana <>
Date: Fri, Nov 16, 2012 at 6:24 PM
Subject: Setting the Record Straight on Promethean Boards

To: "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , "" , ""
Cc: "Edwards, Brian" , "Bowers, Larry" , "Collette, Sherwin"
Good evening,

You recently received an email from the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County that contained misinformation and falsehoods about Montgomery County Public Schools’ technology initiative that will provide a Promethean interactive whiteboard for every elementary school classroom and install a secure wireless network in all schools. The Parents’ Coalition claims that Promethean is not a vendor on one of two state contracts that MCPS uses to purchase the whiteboards. Therefore, they conclude, the contract cannot be used to purchase the Promethean Boards.
This is false.
Promethean is not on the vendor list because the company doesn’t sell the boards directly. Instead, Promethean uses resellers to market and sell the Boards. MCPS has purchased all of its Promethean Boards from Dell. A search of the State Department of Information Technology (DoIT) 2012 Hardware Master Contract clearly shows that Dell is an approved vendor for “peripherals,” which is what items like Promethean Boards are considered under the state contract. MCPS also has the option to use a contract through the Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium (MEEC), which includes Dell as an approved vendor for “peripherals.” Both of these contracts were competitively bid.
School districts, colleges and universities routinely use this method of “piggybacking” on competitively bid statewide contracts for the purchase of technology, as it leads to more competitive pricing and access to a large number of vendors. In fact, in the 2009 Financial Management Practices Performance Audit Report on Montgomery County Public Schools by the Office of Legislative Audits/Department of Legislative Services, this practice was highlighted: 
“MCPS had instituted certain best practices that should enhance the cost effectiveness of its procurements. These include “piggybacking” onto contracts already procured by the State and other local governments, and participating in cooperative purchasing organizations. These practices save MCPS certain costs associated with the procurement of contracts and may provide larger discounts as a result of the combined purchasing power of multiple entities.” (Page 20)
The purchase of the Promethean Boards and the installation of the wireless networks will help create a strong, districtwide foundation for technology in all schools and allow MCPS to then consider other ways it can incorporate the use of technology into its instructional program. Many parents, teachers and school leaders have supported this initiative. Some members of the Parents’ Coalition have made it clear they do not support this initiative and they are entitled to their opinion. However, they are not entitled to their own facts.
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any further questions.
Dana Tofig
Director, Public Information and Web Services
Montgomery County Public Schools
Twitter: @MCPS


  1. Do school systems routinely lie?

  2. When there is no oversight from the citizens, sadly governments tend to lie. Montgomery County has a very uninvolved citizenry.

  3. Mr. Tofig's e-mail is in direct contradiction of the Board of Education vote of September 11, 2012. The Board of Education voted on the following:

    September 11, 2012: Resolved, That the Board of Education approves the purchase of Promethean interactive classroom technology systems (pursuant to the state of Maryland contract 050B7800023) at a total cost of $8,949,719

    Does Mr. Tofig believe that he can simply insert "MEEC" for "STATE OF MARYLAND" and no one will notice?

    MEEC is a membership only organization. In order to become a member organizations must pay a fee. MEEC stands for Maryland Education Enterprise Consortium.

    State of Maryland is the state where Montgomery County is located. It is a public government entity.

    When the Board of Education votes to sign a contract, that vote is for a specific, legal action.

    The Board of Education voted to sign a STATE OF MARYLAND contract, not a MEEC contract. No e-mail from a public relations department can change the vote of our elected Board of Education.

  4. Mr. Tofig needs to produce the documents.


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