Education , Law & Principles

Ray Carter | July 21, 2022

Hofmeister suggests law violated; review shows otherwise

Ray Carter

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister recently suggested competitive-bidding requirements have been evaded for a program supported by Gov. Kevin Stitt.

But an agency review quickly proved otherwise.

At the June 16 meeting of the Oklahoma State Board of Career and Technology Education, board members considered the agency’s budget for the 2023 fiscal year. That plan included pass-through funding for the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program, which works to help struggling students persevere in their education and become career ready. Board members were informed the agency would spend $25,000 for a membership fee with JAG.

Hofmeister suggested other vendors should have been sought out.

“I don’t know if it’s been competitively bid,” Hofmeister said.

She suggested the JAG program had been selected as a vendor in a way that violated state law.

“I know that’s something that the state auditor is asking questions about right now, and asking how a vendor is selected to just appear in budget to go before a board if there wasn’t an RFP (request for proposal) process,” Hofmeister said.

There is no record showing the state auditor is reviewing the JAG program.

The board opted to set aside the line-item dealing with JAG while Hofmeister’s questions were investigated and take up the issue again at their July meeting.

Within days, officials determined Hofmeister’s criticisms had no basis.

In a June 21 email sent to board members, Lee Denney, interim state director of CareerTech, wrote, “During our last regular board meeting, questions were raised about the Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) program. A key concern centered around a $25,000 membership affiliation fee paid to the national JAG organization and whether this cost was competitively bid. Under state law, anything at or below $25,000 is not required to be put out for competitive bids. Effective November 2020, the threshold for competitive bidding was raised from $5,000 to $25,000.”

Denney also addressed questions raised about how the JAG program had been placed under CareerTech’s umbrella in 2021 and noted board members had previously discussed the program during 2021 board meetings.

“In June 2021, then Director Marcie Mack informed the board of the program’s transition to CareerTech,” Denney wrote. “About a month later during the board’s regular meeting in July 2021, Dr. Mack again advised the board about JAG’s transition to CareerTech.”

Minutes from the June 2021 and July 2022 meetings show that Hofmeister was present at both meetings.

Minutes from the July 2021 meeting show Mack referenced previously sending board members an email about the JAG program in addition to discussing it at the meeting.

During the June 2022 board meeting, Hofmeister voiced her objections to JAG after agency staff indicated the JAG program has received strong support from Gov. Kevin Stitt, who Hofmeister has clashed with since switching parties to become a Democrat.

Ray Carter Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter

Director, Center for Independent Journalism

Ray Carter is the director of OCPA’s Center for Independent Journalism. He has two decades of experience in journalism and communications. He previously served as senior Capitol reporter for The Journal Record, media director for the Oklahoma House of Representatives, and chief editorial writer at The Oklahoman. As a reporter for The Journal Record, Carter received 12 Carl Rogan Awards in four years—including awards for investigative reporting, general news reporting, feature writing, spot news reporting, business reporting, and sports reporting. While at The Oklahoman, he was the recipient of several awards, including first place in the editorial writing category of the Associated Press/Oklahoma News Executives Carl Rogan Memorial News Excellence Competition for an editorial on the history of racism in the Oklahoma legislature.

Loading Next