Whistleblower: Franklin Co. paid $10K more than Miami-Dade for same textbooks

Textbook publishers offered free or discounted materials to larger school districts in Florida while excluding others, like Franklin and Hamilton counties.
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 5:13 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 6, 2022 at 9:49 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Textbook publishers offered free or discounted materials to larger school districts in Florida while excluding others, like Franklin and Hamilton counties, according to whistleblower allegations.

In letters sent to the Department of Education last month, the whistleblower claims that counties like Franklin and Hamilton missed out on tens of thousands of dollars worth of discounts offered to bigger districts.

The letters said Franklin County specifically paid about $10,000 more than Miami Dade County for the same English language arts textbooks.

“$10,000 may not be much to a larger school district, but it’s a lot to Franklin County, to a small school district like ourselves,” Steve Lanier, Franklin County Schools superintendent, said. “And it makes me question how we even got to that point, why the people who made the deal didn’t think of Franklin County.”

FCS Curriculum Director Jennifer Leach said it’s unfair that other districts got free things, while FCS didn’t.

According to Florida law, textbook publishers have to charge the same price to every district in the state.

“The law is pretty clear,” said Chris Doolin, a lobbyist for the Small School District Council Consortium.

The whistleblower’s letter included purchase orders detailing discounts given to large districts that smaller ones weren’t offered.

The press secretary for Florida DOE said they are currently reviewing the complaints to determine whether any Florida laws were broken.

McGraw Hill was among the textbook publishers listed in the letter. A spokesperson for them said they believe the allegations are based on factual inaccuracies and that they have not overcharged any of the districts.

Doolin said he believes there is sufficient evidence showing the textbook publishers broke the law.

Lanier said he’s hurt his district was left out of discounts that could have saved them money.

“It’s just something that needs to be fair, straight across the board and not just for the larger school districts,” he said.

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