Battle over state reading assessment tool continues

Mark Johnson, Superintendent, N.C. Department of Public Instruction

RALEIGH — Despite North Carolina State Superintendent Mark Johnson confirming the contract between the state and Istation, decided in June, the battle between two K-3 reading assessment tool vendors is not over.

Amplify Education, the company who previously provided the state’s reading tool, filed a motion with the Department of Information Technology (DIT) to block the use of the new Istation reading program after Johnson denied the company’s appeal of his decision.

“We are evaluating the implications of the Department of Information and Technology’s decision to temporarily stay the award of the contract, but have not been asked to change course on the implementation process that is well underway in schools across the state,” said Ossa Fisher, Istation President and COO in a statement. Fisher went on to say the company will “continue the work we started in North Carolina.”

DIT granted Amplify’s motion on Aug. 19 for a temporary stay until the dispute is heard over how the $8.3 million 5-year contract was awarded, but Johnson acted quickly in filing a motion of his own.

“I’m the N.C. Superintendent of Public Instruction, but I’m also a lawyer. That’s a good thing on weeks like this one,” Johnson said in a press release.

Johnson’s release says that “DIT improperly issued an injunction” on the contract alleging that DIT ignored due process and contradicted state law and departmental rules.

“DIT rendered a decision after only hearing arguments from one party, the losing vendor, and failed to give DPI its proper chance to respond,” said Johnson. “Given that DIT procurement specialists advised DPI throughout the procurement process, it is odd to begin with that the same department that approved the process is now in charge of reviewing that same process.”

The motion also notes that Amplify’s contract expires on Aug. 24 and that the state has already begun implementing and using the Istation tool.

About A.P. Dillon 656 Articles
A.P. Dillon is a North State Journal reporter located near Raleigh, North Carolina. Find her on Twitter: @APDillon_