Angela Kennecke checks the court documents and find the state has submitted evidence against Dan Guericke, accused co-conspirator in the GEAR UP/Mid-Central scandal. The red-letter finding: 17 contracts worth $3.8 million signed in secret by Guericke, without approval by his Mid-Central Educational Cooperative board. Who got that illegal gravy?
- PAST Foundation, three contracts, June 2012–September 2015, $1,576,962.
- Brinda Kuhn, GEAR UP evaluator, four contracts, October 2009–September 2010, October 2012–September 2014, $308,365.
- Rural Learning Center, one contract, October 2009–September 2010, $160,011.
- University of South Dakota, three contracts, October 2011–September 2014, nearly $1 million.
- American Indian Institute for Innovation, six contracts, October 2009–September 2010, October 2012–September 2015, three with no amounts specified, one for $266,172, two annual contracts giving co-indictee Stacy Phelps $130K for 270 days of work and Jay Roman $160K for 400 days of work.
Attorney General Marty Jackley presents these secret contracts to “show the jury the manner in which Defendant was running MCEC”—i.e., to show that Guericke was hiding his handouts from the board that was supposed to approve and supervise any use of those public dollars.
Not discussed in A.G. Jackley’s brief is the question of whether Mid-Central—or the South Dakota Department of Education, which directed to Mid-Central the GEAR UP funds disbursed in these seventeen contracts, or the federal Department of Education, which issued these public grants in the first place—can claw back these illegally disbursed funds from Kuhn, Phelps, Roman, PAST, and USD.
p.s.: Included in A.G. Jackley’s evidence packet is an e-mail thread involving Guericke, Phelps, Education Secretary Melody Schopp, and DOE director of finance Tami Darnall concerning graduation and college entrance rates for GEAR UP participants. The thread includes Darnall’s e-mail signature quote:
“She was unstoppable, not because she did not have failures or doubts, but because she continued on despite them.” So wrote Beau Taplin, a self-publishing Australian author with no idea who runs South Dakota’s Department of Education.