Group Claims Leon School Superintendent Awarded Contracts To Political Donors

Apr 30, 2014

Leon School Superintendent Jackie Pons at Griffen Middle School in 2013.
Credit LHatter / WFSU News

An anonymous group claims Leon County School District officials circumvented state competitive bidding laws in awarding school construction projects to political donors.

The group calling itself "Concerned Leon County School Board Employees and Citizens of Leon County" questions whether Superintendent Jackie Pons broke state law by awarding construction projects at six schools to local contractors who have also made campaign contributions to him.

Each of the 12 contracts fell just below $2 million -- the threshold needed for a project to go to a competitive bidding process. The contracts were awarded at six different schools. All projects were approved by the Leon County School Board.

The organization sent documents to the Tallahassee Democrat and WCTV which first reported the story.

Documents also went to the  Florida Department of Law Enforcement and the Florida Department of Education. DOE has declined to investigate further, but FDLE is continuing to look into the matter. The State Auditor General’s Office says it received the files in February and says it will take the material into consideration during the districts’ annual audit for the current fiscal year.

Allegations first surfaced last December by a Leon County School Administrator, which the Democrat identifies as Rocky Hanna, former Leon High School Principal. Hanna has obtained a lawyer. According to a statement by the district, it conducted both an internal review and hired an independent firm to examine the projects and found no evidence of fraud or criminal activity. The district says the allegations remain under review.