MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Md. (DC News Now) — MCPS recently awarded the KID Museum with a nearly $2.4 million contract to continue their partnership providing STEM-based learning activities for students.
The Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County raised concerns about the extension of this agreement because the KID Museum’s founder is board member Dr. Scott Joftus’s wife. The advocacy group also says due to this conflict of interest no other companies were able to bid on this opportunity.
“It’s not a new issue that the board of education is not diligent in dealing with the public procurement, and following the public procurement laws,” said Janis Sartucci from the Parents’ Coalition of Montgomery County. “And really keeping everything aboveboard and as transparent as possible.”
Dr. Scott Joftus was appointed to the board in December of 2021. He says he understands how it looks, but he notified the district during his interview process that he had a relationship with the KID Museum.
“We have done everything to follow all the rules and regulations necessary to ensure that this was a fair and legal contract with the museum,” said Dr. Joftus. “I did recuse myself, I made a public statement while the board was discussing this contract and I explained the reason why I was recusing myself.”
KID Museum’s Founder and Executive Director Cara Lesser says while it’s being described as a single source contract, the agreement was completed in 2017. She says this is more like an extension of a partnership that was established way before her husband was a board member.
“I can see how it can be confusing from afar but everything from the very beginning has been 100% above board,” said Lesser.
This week Superintendent Dr. Monifa McKnight also defended the system’s decision saying their goal was to use a single source provider that was already serving their community. During a board of education meeting, Board President Brenda Wolff said in the future these contracts should be considered with caution.