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School computer deal gets state’s attention


Florida Gov. Charlie Crist’s legal counsel, Jason Gonzalez, has asked the inspector general of the state’s education department to investigate a Northeast Florida school computer system deal worth as much as $3 million, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Gonzalez wrote in his letter to Inspector Ed Jordan that the matter was brought to his attention by attorney Edwin Bayo, who provided eMail messages and meeting notices suggesting that something was fishy in negotiations between the 15-school board North East Florida Education Consortium and Skyward, a Wisconsin-based firm that produces finance and student-tracking software for schools. "These documents raise concerns of possible Sunshine Law and other ethics violations," Gonzalez wrote. The most intriguing document: A Jan. 14 eMail from Skyward vice president Kevin McFerrin and two consortium staffers who were among 10 scheduled to review the systems in the Badger State. McFerrin suggested they come up early. "It will cost you nothing!" McFerrin wrote. "This will give you the time to come to the Northwoods. We can snowmobile in some beautiful areas and do some ice fishing—even some snowshoeing at my hunting shack!" McFerrin said the trip never happened, though 10 NEFEC members still flew up to check out the system. "Everything was above-board," he said. "This is [instigated] by a vendor who’s upset."

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