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WAMC New York News
Tue August 9, 2011
NYS Teachers Unions Question No-Bid Contract
By Dave Lucas
Albany, NY – The phone-hacking scandal that's shaken Rupert Murdoch's empire has touched teacher's unions in New York: they're questioning the State Education Department's awarding of a 27 Million dollar no-bid contract to a company owned by Murdoch's News Corp. Capital District Bureau Chief Dave Lucas reports.
The contract was awarded to "Wireless Generation" outside the normal bidding process shortly after News Corp hired former New York City schools chief Joel Klein. New York State United Teachers President Dick Iannuzzi and United Federation of Teachers President Michael Mulgrew have written top state officials expressing their concerns about students' privacy and personal data security.
The officials wrote - quote - "It is especially troubling that Wireless Generation will be tasked with creating a centralized database for personal student information, even as its parent company, News Corp., stands accused of illegal news gathering tactics, including the hacking of private voicemails."
The letter was sent to state Education Commissioner John King Jr. and Board of Regents Chancellor Merryl Tisch. Copies went out to Governor Andrew Cuomo, state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli and Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. State Education Department Spokesman Tom Dunn responded to a request for comment by email - quote "We stand by our selection of vendor for this work as outlined in the single-source document submitted to the State Comptroller."
Wireless Generation's Joan Lebow stresses that personal privacy IS of paramount importance to the company. NYSUT's Dick Ianuzzi asserts that all the teachers are asking for is an open bidding process. A spokesperson for State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli says his office is not commenting om the contract. DiNapoli has until early September to approve the contract with Wireless Generation.