Milwaukee Public Schools Ending Contract With GOP Leader’s Nonprofit
Decade-long no-bid partnership for Gerard Randall coming to an end following questioning by board.
Milwaukee Public Schools ended its decade-long affiliation with the Milwaukee Education Partnership on Thursday. The non-profit organization has received nearly $1.3 million in no-bid contracts but has recently come under scrutiny.
Superintendent Keith Posley told school board members after reviewing contracts between MPS and the group, he would not be bringing any further contracts back for approval.
The district’s 2023-24 budget included $75,000 for the Milwaukee Education Partnership. The Milwaukee school board was scheduled to renew the contract on Sept. 19, but questions from board members postponed the vote.
Gerard Randall is the executive director and sole employee of the nonprofit Milwaukee Education Partnership, created to boost student outcomes and teacher retention.
Randall, who serves on a variety of boards of Milwaukee nonprofits, is also first vice chair of the Republican Party of Wisconsin and secretary of the host committee for the 2024 Republican National Convention, which will be held in Milwaukee.
Posley’s announcement Thursday came as a surprise.
It was in response to two board members, Missy Zombor and Henry Leonard, asking the district’s accountability office to review whether the Milwaukee Education Partnership violated a contractual code of conduct.
“The administration has reviewed all contracts with the MEP and will not be bringing this contract back to the board for approval,” Posley said.
Zombor asked Posley to come back in December with a plan on how to reallocate the $75,000. All board members voted in favor, except Darryl Jackson, who abstained.
When questioned over the last several weeks about how the partnership benefits the district, Randall was vague.
Last week, WPR and Wisconsin Watch reported Randall was paid more than $64,000 last year for work that was not completed. And school board members previously expressed concern that other services the partnership provides may duplicate those already being done in the district.
Zombor was elected in April and began examining the Milwaukee Education Partnership after being appointed to the committee that approves all district contracts.
She realized the partnership’s website was out of date and only included years-old reports.
The site also listed people as members of the board of directors who had ended relationships with the partnership years ago.
When contacted by a reporter, several high-profile officials said the nonprofit had listed them in tax filings as board officers without their knowledge.
They include Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jill Underly, Posley, Milwaukee Area Technical College President Vicki Martin and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Chancellor Mark Mone.
Following the publication of the WPR/Wisconsin Watch story, Benjamin Jones, chief legal counsel with DPI, immediately sent a letter to Randall directing him to remove Underly’s name. Randall responded that he would.
A spokesperson from MATC said the school had been trying to get Martin’s name removed for several years, but the partnership’s phone number was out of service.
Before the school board meeting, Randall sent a statement through a representative saying he is proud of the work the Milwaukee Education Partnership does to “connect young people with educational and professional opportunities and to bring high-quality educators to work in our city’s schools.”
Randall said the school board isn’t giving him an opportunity to share the work being done.
“But the Partnership’s impact can be seen in the success of programs like Project Metro/PMAC, Leading Men Fellows, and our HBCU initiatives,” he said. “The Partnership has also developed key relationships with national organizations to connect dynamic educators from across the country with schools in need of teachers here in Milwaukee.”
Randall called previous reporting “misleading,” and said it painted an “inaccurate and incomplete picture” of the work he’s doing.
“An outdated website does not diminish the value of the work the Partnership has done and continues to do to this day,” he said.
Milwaukee Public Schools ends relationship with Gerard Randall and Milwaukee Education Partnership was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.