The school board increased the district’s contract with Ultimate Education Solutions, a politically connected consulting firm, by $15,000 on Wednesday night. This boosts the firm’s total contract for the 2017-18 school year to $40,000.
School officials said the firm will provide a retired former school administrator, identified as Jeanette Lyde, to assist in handling complaints related to the district’s troubled special education program.
School board members approved the contract in a 5-1-1 vote. Jonathan Hodges voted against while Nakima Redmon abstained.
Hodges questioned the origin of the contract increase. David Cozart, assistant superintendent in charge of high schools, submitted the resolution for the increase. Ultimate Education Solutions received a $25,000 contract in December to provide mentoring and other services to high schools.
“It will be placed under that contract,” said superintendent Eileen Shafer.
The firm, owned by retired school administrator Joseph Fulmore, had to take a break in the 2016-17 school year, for making political contributions to former school board member Christopher Irving’s campaign.
Fulmore has made donations to other Democratic Party politicians in past years. He has not made any reportable contributions to school board members in the past year.
Lyde is also politically connected. She retired from the district in 2007-8 school year, according to state records, and collects a $86,000 pension.
Lyde has made political contributions to the campaigns of assemblyman Benjie Wimberly and assemblywoman Shavonda Sumter. She contributed $195 to Wimberly’s campaign in 2010. $30 to Sumter’s campaign in 2012. And $400 to ex-mayor Jeffery Jones’ campaign in 2010, according to state records.
Hodges has said he would prefer spending money on providing special education services to children rather than hiring a consultant to answer questions.
Lyde will also assist in modifying special education students’ individualized education program (IEP) based on parental inputs, said officials.