Publisher’s Note: CCS fails to meet LEDE purchasing goals AGAIN

By Ronda Watson Barber
OhioMBE Publisher

Columbus City Schools did not meet the LEDE purchasing goal AGAIN! Ohio’s largest public school system aims to spend 20 percent of the district’s purchases with disadvantaged businesses. During the 2021-2022 school year, CCS only spent five percent of its spending with LEDE vendors.

Five percent! The district spent $332,130,966.56. LEDE vendors procured $17,008,371.37 from CCS. According to the report, white men benefit from the program in the predominately Black school district. Thirty-one white companies received $6,025,297.54 in contracts, while 68 Black firms received $8,141,331.09. Columbus City Schools and its administration continue to violate its inclusion policy.

The policy states: The Board affirms its commitment to its “Equity Policy.” The School District seeks to include LEDEs in all aspects of its contracting for construction, professional and non-professional services, and procurement of goods and supplies activities by adopting this statement (this “LEDE Statement”). Specifically, the LEDE Statement seeks to achieve the goal of awarding to LEDEs School District contracts and procurements, which represent at least twenty percent (20%) of all dollars spent on an annual basis by the School District for contracting and procurement purposes (the “LEDE Participation Goal”). The School District is committed to ensuring that all citizens and/or lawfully admitted permanent residents in the School District community who are qualified contractors, subcontractors, professionals, suppliers, and other service providers have a fair and equitable opportunity to participate in the contracting and procurement activities of the School District.

  • How committed is CCS to racial and economic equity in purchasing?
  • Why won’t the CCS actively include Black LEDE vendors in its purchasing scheme?
  • Why do district officials forward legislation that does not include LEDE vendors?
  • Why does the elected school board continue to vote for legislation that does not include LEDE vendors?
  • Why doesn’t any elected board member ask questions are the legislation they are voting on? Some board members have told me that they don’t read the legislation. In essence, they don’t know what they are voting for.
  • Why isn’t anyone being held accountable for overt failure?
  • Should the district establish a program for Black vendors?
  • Should the district establish a program for Columbus City School graduates?
  • Who is advocating for Black businesses?

Where is the equity for Black businesses in Columbus City Schools? Aside from the Outreach Coordinator, who is looking out for Black vendors? It doesn’t appear that the elected board and administration are concerned with economic equity for Black vendors. The administration and board continue to allow the restrictive vendor registration policy enacted solely by the former purchasing director. The disgraceful former purchasing director filed a lawsuit in federal court against the district, claiming, ironically, discrimination when he wasn’t rehired when he retired. In a sworn deposition, the same white man admitted that he required general liability insurance and a w-9 tax form for vendors to register for business with Columbus City Schools to keep undesirables out. Who are the undesirables he was referring to in a Black school district? Any vestige of his practices must be erased from the purchasing department, including those he trained and hired. No other Central Ohio entity requires proof of insurance and a w-9 on file to access contracting information. Columbus City School has only 254 active LEDE vendors. There are 293 inactive LEDE vendors. Traditionally, vendors are placed in inactive status because they have failed to file their general liability insurance and W-9 form.

Black vendors and taxpayers must hold the administration and elected school board accountable—challenge and question those running for re-election for why they are not advocating for Black businesses. Our vote has power.

Just my thoughts…rwb


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