A D.C. Board of Education committee, concerned about the way the city selected a school drug counseling contractor, voted unanimously yesterday to refuse to accept the services of the firm and those of two others that were awarded contracts totaling $951,427 for comprehensive drug programs in the schools.
School board member R. Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8), in making the motion to reject the contractors, said that at issue was "the character and morals of the head" of Decisions Information Systems Corp., which received a $617,220 contract from the D.C. Department of Human Services for a major part of the school program a month ago.
"I'm concerned about moral turpitude," Lockridge said.
DISC Chairman John Clyburn has acknowledged he was with a woman who died of a drug overdose in December 1983 for the 12 hours preceding her collapse. The incident has drawn questions from City Council Chairman David A. Clarke and others about the Clyburn firm's ability to provide advice on drug counseling for schoolchildren.
Clyburn said yesterday that he had no comment specifically on the school board committee's action but that "the whole thing has been blown out of proportion." He repeated a statement he made earlier this week that he had never bought, sold or used drugs.
Lockridge asserted that the contract was "wired" as a "political favor" and that "everybody knew [DISC] was going to get the contract ahead of time." He said later that a similar $724,998 drug counseling program that DISC ran last summer was "a disaster."
DHS Director David E. Rivers called the charge that the contract was wired "absolutely ridiculous" and said that the program DISC ran last year was "well-managed." He said he would meet with legal advisers and the city administrator to determine how to deal with the situation if the school board adopts the committee's motion.
Members of the board's student services and community involvement committee raised concerns about only the DISC portion of the drug contract, but because of procedural questions rejected all three -- DISC, KOBA Associates and PSI Associates -- "until and unless it is affirmed that their services would be of positive benefit to our young people."
The motion, accepted unanimously by voice vote, will go to the full school board for consideration.
D.C. School Board President R. David Hall suggested to committee members that they delay rejecting the contracts and "take a couple of investigatory steps before we rush in."
DHS chose contractors for the program in a two-step process. In January a three-person evaluation team, Delores Burnett from the schools' office of instruction and two DHS staffers, rated proposals from 12 firms.
DHS had asked the firms to come up with proposals for a four-part program, but only DISC and one other firm bid on all four parts.
After bonus points for minority-owned firms were given, DISC received the highest rating, with two other firms close behind.
Vallie Byrdsong, DHS's contracting officer, recommended that DISC receive the entire contract.
While PSI Associates and DISC were close, Byrdsong wrote that PSI's proposal to perform three parts of the program for $912,983 was expensive compared with DISC's proposal to do the whole program for $875,319.
Public Health Commissioner Andrew McBride, however, wrote back that because many of the firms bid on only part of the program, DHS officials should award DISC only two components -- student assessment and peer counseling -- and ask all the firms to submit their "best and final offer" on the remaining two parts.
Evaluators reviewed the proposals again and rated KOBA as the best firm to provide health promotion and PSI as the best firm for staff development.