Black firms shutout of miami-dade public schools construction contracts

M-D School’s disparity study confirm Black business neglect

12/17/2013, 1:24 p.m.
With billions being spent over the next several years in the construction and/or renovation of Miami-Dade County Public Schools [M-DCPS], ...
D.C. Clark

M-DCPS School Board Member Dr. Dorothy Bendross- Mindingall says the disparity study will allow them to create policy “that promotes inclusion of all subgroups of Miami-Dade County.”

“This phase of the report was expedited to coincide with the recently-established bond construction program and the draft report found disparities. This is significant because this will allow us to create a set-aside program for minorities and women. This study will give us more latitude to pursue inclusion in capital construction in the future. Phase 2 will cover procurement of goods and services and maintenance.”

“I applaud the efforts of the entire school board for implementing change that was neglected for over 20 years in our district,” said Christopher Norwood, former chair of the M-DCPS M/WBE Advisory Committee. “We should be asking why the Black community was not as engaged in demanding this study then from our school leadership.”

Dissenting views

Darryl Holsendolph, a Miami native, private consultant and recently-elected president of the Dade Coalition for Education and Economic Justice, a multi-racial group of educators, parents and business leaders, says he has problems with how the data was sorted and interpreted in the disparity study.

“We believe that close to $1 billion dollars of M-DCPS maintenance construction and repair work data was not included in the construction portion of the disparity study,” he said. “What is most insulting to our Coalition is they want us to believe and accept their recently-created definition of capital construction just for the purpose of tainting the disparity study data. Florida State Statue 1013 defines capital construction and we demand that definition be used for the construction phase of the study. Shame on all of you who would attempt to deceive an already oppressed community.”

But perhaps the most scathing criticism came from Miami native and president of Miami Central’s alumni association, D.C. Clark who represents Central as part of the Inner City Alumni for a Responsible Education [I-CARE].

“We’ve been saying there was a disparity and telling the superintendent that forever,” he said. “When he came here only 1.4 percent of Black contractors were getting contracts. We believe this report does nothing more than put a spin on the numbers. So they spent $400,000 for this report to be done but used the wrong years to study. They should have used 2005 to 2011 and that’s what was the original intent. We believe they omitted 2005 so that they could boost their findings. Look we just want inner city schools to get the resources that they both need and deserve. We all know that Black contractors, among others, haven’t been getting their fair share and the study proves us right. But if the officials were honest, they’d tell you this report doesn’t give them one reason to celebrate. They’re simply spinning the truth so they can continue to give the bulk of the contracts to Cuban businesses.”