Sen. Melton Calls for Firing of Emergency Manager of Gary Schools

State Senator Eddie Melton has called for the firing of MGT Consulting after learning of ties with former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett

Photo Source: Indiana Senate Democrats

November 29, 2018-In a written statement today, State Senator Eddie Melton called for the termination of a contract for an emergency manager for Gary’s troubled schools.  While Melton has never addressed the systemic abuse that caused the meltdown in the schools, revelations regarding a connection between former Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett and MGT riled the rookie Senator.  “I was greatly disturbed to learn about former State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Bennett’s connections with the consulting group hired to address GCSC’s financial problems especially since these ties were known and not shared by certain members of the DUAB before MGT Consulting was selected as the Emergency Manager”  Melton stated.

Melton chooses to blame Bennett for the problems faced by the Gary Schools, rather than the corruption of local administrators:

“This is deeply troubling because many of the reasons why GCSC is facing such financial issues are because of the anti-public schools policies put in place by the state’s former superintendent and republican legislative supermajorities. This includes the Roosevelt High School takeover in Gary that drained millions of dollars from the school corporation. Additionally, Tony Bennett’s poor judgment, indicated by his ethics violations and alleged favoritism toward schools operated by GOP donors, show that he should have no part in the rebuilding process of this school district.”

Former Gary School Superintendent Cheryl Pruitt has been criminally charged with double-billing a lavish vacation to California and was previously ordered to repay a $30,000 bonus which she took while the former fiscal manager was overseeing district finances.  The school district racked up over $120M in bills-including a $7M federal tax lien for failing to pay withholding taxes and a multi-million dollar debt to Melton’s employer-NIPSCO for monthly utility services.

At the time the emergency manager was selected Melton lobbied for a firm closely connected to Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson.  Melton has been rumored to be the chosen replacement for Freeman-Wilson after the 2019 election.

Melton’s NIPSCO ties immediately ingratiated him with Indiana Republicans in Indianapolis.  That romance may be over as Melton takes aim squarely at the Governor:

“The governor’s administration has oversight of DUAB, and their lack of transparency has me questioning critical decisions made about Indiana schools and their students. DUAB welcomed public input where Gary residents could weigh in on the selection of several firms that bid on the emergency contract with the state. The citizens resoundingly advocated for firms other than MGT, at least one of which had direct experience with working in the Gary community. Ultimately, their input was essentially ignored by DUAB’s selection of MGT.

“The lack of transparency and forthrightness by certain members of DUAB would be concerning to most and would not stand up to any sincere audit of the facts. Considering this, I suggest the governor and members of DUAB immediately rescind MGT’s contract. These matters must be corrected through a fully transparent process with the goal to reinstate the trust and confidence of those whom we all hope to better represent and whose precious tax dollars deserve to be better managed.”

Melton did not comment on the impact firing the emergency manager may have on school operations at this point in time or how that would be accomplished.

4 Comments

    • How ’bout attorney general…there’s another winner.Put ’em all in downtown Gary and take away *all* state and county funding. See how long they last.Gary needs to be subdivided.

  1. Associated Press told us years ago Bennett was actively working to improve schools he wanted . He changed grades and used the excuse that they didn’t have grade 11th and 12th so they couldn’t be graded accurately . This entire post was a hit piece . Nobody defended him when McDermott went at him . Why is there a problem now ? Because we are talking about Gary ? Or because a BLACK man spoke ?

    They need to understand that anything less than an A for Christel House compromises all of our accountability work,” Bennett wrote in a Sept. 12 email to a colleague.

    • This article is about what is best for the students of Gary Community School Corporation. Melton was backing another locally connected company to be emergency manager and this move seems to be an attempt to force another company to take over. That may be the best move, but we would need more details than the company had ties to a superintendent of public instruction from 5 years ago. The Gazette was very critical of Bennett at the time and even published emails that others did not, nonetheless, it doesn’t really seem to be reason to suddenly fire the current emergency manager without putting forth a clear plan that would have the least impact on students.

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