Originally created 07/11/98

Schools official cleared



ATLANTA -- A state Board of Education investigation has found nothing wrong with the process that led a company that employs a supporter of School Superintendent Linda Schrenko to receive a $9 million state testing contract.

Board member Ed Andrews released his findings in a letter at this week's monthly meeting. Board Chairman Johnny Isakson assigned him the task of investigating the case.

Political opponents of Ms. Schrenko, who faces re-election this year, have questioned the deal. Board member J.T. Williams, a past critic of Ms. Schrenko, asked for the investigation of the process by which the contract was approved.

Mr. Williams did not comment when the findings were released.

The state board approved the deal with Riverside Publishing in May. Don Bolia, a former Georgia Republican Party director who is helping Ms. Schrenko's re-election campaign, lobbies for Riverside.

Mr. Bolia said he isn't involved with the company's testing work for the Department of Education.

"I have met with department staff and reviewed pertinent documentation," Mr. Andrews wrote. "It is my opinion that the entire selection process, from the request for proposal to the contract award, was appropriately handled and all criteria were met.

"It is my conclusion that the selection of Riverside Publishing was the appropriate decision. In addition, it is clear that this determination is in the best interest of the Department of Education and for the children of Georgia."

DOE officials said Riverside's bid for the project was the only valid proposal after another company's plan was disqualified.

Sen. Joey Brush, R-Appling, a close political ally of Ms. Schrenko, noted the Department of Community Affairs handled the contract, not the DOE.

"People that were wondering about that didn't understand the process," he said.