Philadelphia School District Could Pay Up to $3.6M to Security Company for Racial Discrimination

The company, owned by two white men, was awarded $2.3 million in a court decision back in June after it was found the superintendent gave a surveillance camera contract to a minority-owned company instead even though it had not bid on the project.

PHILADELPHIA — A security company that was found to be racially discriminated against by the Philadelphia School District is asking the courts for an additional $1.3 million in attorney fees and other costs after it was already awarded $2.3 million in the decision in June.

In 2010, the security company, Security Data & Technologies (SDT), had submitted a $7.5 million no-bid contract offer to the school district to install video surveillance cameras in 19 schools that the state had called “persistently dangerous.” But former Superintendent Arlene C. Ackerman was found to have steered the contract to a small, minority-owned company, IBS Communications, that had not placed a bid on the contract.

As Philly.com reports, Ackerman told administrators in a September 2010 meeting that she did not want to give the work to SDT, owned by two white men. Instead, she wanted to give the contract to a “black firm.” Ackerman, who resigned in 2011 and died in 2013, was black.

Ackerman reportedly said at the meeting that she wanted to make sure “all these white boys didn’t get contracts” and gave the job to IBS. SDT filed a lawsuit in 2012.

“This case arises from an episode of blatant, admitted race discrimination,” SDT said in court documents.

Due to the “dangerous” nature of the school’s lack of surveillance, it was dubbed an emergency contract. SDT was on a state-approved list of contractors eligible to perform emergency contracts, while IBS was not, according to Philly.com.

SDT is based in Newtown, while IBS is located in Mount Airy.


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