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Spurned Security Firm Lashes Out at School District Attorney


BRADENTON — Largo-based security firm Critical Intervention Services was one of the companies that participated in a Request for Proposals by the Manatee County School District, for providing armed security at the district's elementary schools. The company was not the top-scored bidder by the selection committee and initially indicated that it might protest the bidding process, as allowed for by Florida statute. Instead, it sent the superintendent a lengthy letter, questioning the design of the bid process, while making unflattering accusations regarding the conduct of the district's attorney.

CIS President and CEO K.C. Poulin sent the 28-page letter dated Monday to Superintendent Rick Mills, just a day before the board was scheduled to hold a workshop on the subject of private security firms in the district's elementary schools.

Poulin outlined several subjects he found troubling, including the involvement of Troy Pumphrey, a former Washington D.C. area law enforcement officer who Mills hired to take over the district's hobbled internal investigation apparatus, shortly after he was brought on as superintendent.

Pumphrey served on the committee that evaluated and ranked the bids for providing the security personnel and CIS officials were initially troubled by the fact that the winning bidder, locally-based Sarasota Security Patrol, had Pumphrey listed as a reference. Poulin explained in the letter that audio recordings of the committee's meeting CIS had been provided and had reviewed revealed that Pumphrey's appearance as a reference had been addressed, and that when it was suggested that he abstain from reviewing the firm's bid, he agreed to comply.

However, when it was ascertained through further questioning that his relationship to the firm was limited to interactions based on other work the firm had been contracted to do with the district and not of a personal nature, it was decided by the committee that there would not be a problem in Pumphrey participating in scoring their bid.

Last week, the school district's attorney, Mitchell Teitelbaum, sent the board a memo explaining that CIS had indicated they would be protesting the bid and further explaining that he'd met with reps from the company and addressed their concerns regarding Pumphrey's participation. Teitelbaum said that he removed Pumphrey's scores and that CIS's ranking was not improved.

Teitelbaum wrote to the board at the time, “Their protest appears motivated by other factors based upon their unwillingness to compromise and a direct statement by their counsel to me on 9/2/14, that they are not interested in being awarded the contract by the District and plan on pursuing a bid protest regardless. This coincided with a public records request of this same date. The sole purpose appears to be an attempt to somehow embarrass this administration by casting aspersions through improper inference and innuendo.”

Poulin did raise other areas of concern including a requirement to have the necessary personnel available within 48-hours of signing the contract and the reference criteria. Teitelbaum explained in his letter that he again revised the scores without those criteria and showed that CIS would still not have been the top-ranked bidder, which Poulin also acknowledged in his the letter.

However, Poulin went on to allege what can only be described as very odd behavior on Teitelbaum's part, asserting that the attorney continuously made several highly brash comments about himself. Poulin also seemed to suggest that Teitelbaum hinted that he might be able to steer them toward other business with the district. 

Teitelbaum sent a response to the board Tuesday in which he referred to CIS as a “disgruntled losing bidder,” who used “outright coercive and bullying tactics.”

“Never in my 24 years of practice, have I seen such baseless accusations and character assassination," wrote Teitelbaum, who also said that CIS's failure to file an actual bid protest demonstrated the lack of merit within their attacks. He called the letter and its contents, "false, inflammatory, and slanderous and libel per se in the purest form."

Speaking to a TBT reporter at Tuesday's school board meeting, Teitelbaum said: "If there was any merit to the allegations of the proper bid proposal, the opposing party CIS had up to ten days to file a formal bid protest. That time has come and gone. Obviously those allegations had no merit, similar to the allegations against me." Beth Sharp, an employee in the district's purchasing department that was mentioned in CIS's letter to the school board, also spoke to TBT during the meeting, calling the letter's allegation of verbal misconduct by Teitelbaum toward her "completely false."


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