Normally we don’t re-post news articles on the blog, preferring instead to provide links directly to them in any relevant posts.
However, considering the $2 million security contract with Clarity that was entered into by the Belleville Board of Education back in May 2013 was the primary issue that brought the Nutley Watch into Belleville in the first place, this recent development is immensely important for us, and deserves its own spot here on our blog.
The Belleville Times has reported the following story:
Belleville BOE takes legal action against former technology vendor
April 13, 2015 by Roman Uschak
The Belleville Board of Education is in the process of suing its former technology provider.
According to a memorandum from Karen Wachs of the law firm of Schwartz, Simon, Edelstein & Celso, LLC dated April 10, the board has filed a counterclaim against Clarity Technologies, Inc. for breaches of contract, along with negligence claims and even fraud. Stephen Edelstein has been serving as the attorney for the Belleville school board.
Belleville Superintendent of Schools Dr. Richard Tomko said the matter would be brought up at Monday night’s school board meeting at Belleville High School, and would likely be the first committee report given.
Clarity actually got the legal ball rolling in late September of last year when it demanded $224,674 from the Belleville school district for outstanding payments as to information technology contracts, according to the memorandum. The district responded by filing a counterclaim in October for $24,508 for Clarity’s failure in providing a contracted E-rate discount, plus an amended counterclaim on April 2 of this year for the breaches of contract and other issues. E-rate reimburses school districts for expenses in upgrading technology.
The memorandum charges that Clarity was never able to provide telecommunications services to the school systems at a discounted rate, and that Belleville never received a 71 percent discount that had been previously agreed upon.
The memorandum also took Clarity to task for failing to back up Belleville schools’ technology system, which resulted in a catastrophic crash and data loss in September 2014 as the new school year was beginning. A security agreement was also believed to have been breached, as security cameras and phones installed by Clarity also failed, and related Clarity technological cabling was deemed a fire hazard.
The Belleville school district has since switched to Promedia Technology Services as its technology vendor. Promedia appeared before the public at the board’s March meeting. State monitor Thomas Egan had also terminated a contract with Clarity in August regarding outsourcing of the board’s Internet Technologies Department.
The memorandum stated that Belleville’s losses from the security contract breach were valued at $1,301,734 at present, with the breach of the information-technology agreement currently valued at $42,000. The total estimated value of Belleville’s amended counterclaim is $1,490,263.
Clarity, according to the memorandum, has denied all claims asserted in the school district’s amended counterclaim, calling them frivolous, the fault of Belleville, and/or items over which Clarity itself had no control.
Clarity also temporarily pulled the plug on the district’s phone system in October, for non-payment of $61,278 according to Clarity President and Chief Operating Officer Bruce Kreeger. He also said at the time that the district had received a number of warnings beforehand. The phones were later turned back on.
Kreeger could not be immediately be reached for comment.
Both parties are reported to now be exchanging relevant documents, with the counterclaim matter scheduled to go to arbitration in late May.
Source: Belleville BOE takes legal action against former technology vendor