Contractor claims BISD violated bid procedure on Dishman gym construction

By Kelly Holleran | Jan 31, 2011

The Beaumont Independent School District cost taxpayers an extra $150,000 and violated Texas bidding procedures when it hired a contractor to build a new school gymnasium, according to recently filed court documents.

Bruce's General Construction claims it was not awarded a contract to build the new gymnasium, despite bidding $158,000 less in construction costs than the company that BISD hired to construct the addition at Dishman Elementary School.

Taxpayers ended up forking over $1,658,000 to the winning bidder, defendants Morganti and Charlton Pollard Neighborhood Association Construction, according to the complaint filed Jan. 25 in Jefferson County District Court.

However, the defendants would never have been awarded the contract had BISD followed correct bidding procedures outlined in the Texas Education Code, the suit states.

In order to protect taxpayers from fraud and favoritism in the contract process, the Texas Education Code lays out a procedure and set of criteria for hiring a contractor.

According to the criteria, school districts must award contracts based on price, the potential contractor's reputation, the quality of the potential contractor's goods and services, the extent to which the goods and services meet the school district's needs, past relationship with the school district and long-term costs to the school.

When BISD awarded its contract out to Morganti, though, it also listed firm location as criteria it used to determine who it hired to build the gym, the complaint says.

"BISD, and its selection committee, arbitrarily and capriciously utilized or applied one or more of the contractor-selection criteria to the benefit of Morganti, and arbitrarily and capriciously utilized or applied one or more of the contractor-selection criteria to the detriment of BGC," the suit states. "Had BISD and its selection committee fairly, objectively and in good faith applied said criteria in evaluating and ranking Morganti's and BGC's respective responses to the Proposal, BGC easily would have received a higher selection ranking than Morganti."

BGC claims it repeatedly attempted to address its complaint informally with BISD, but the administration and board chose to ignore its concerns.

In its complaint, BGC alleges fraud against defendants BISD, Morganti and Charlton Pollard Neighborhood Association Construction.

BGC is seeking a preliminary, and eventually permanent, injunction against the defendants suspending performance of the contract, actual damages of the $100,000 in profits BGC says it lost as a result of not being awarded the contract, attorneys' fees and other relief the court deems just.

Michael D. Getz and David Vann Decordova Jr. of Beaumont will be representing it.

The case has been assigned to Judge Bob Wortham, 58th District Court.

Case No. A189-246

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