On heels of Verizon scam, $60 million VZ contract to hook up New York City schools hotly protestedBY Rachel Monahan and Ben Chapman
DAILY NEWS WRITERS
Monday, August 15th 2011, 4:00 AM
The Mayor's Panel for Educational Policy will meet Wednesday night to approve a $60 million contract for the firm to provide phone and Internet service at city schools.
The deal has come under fire because Verizon has been implicated in a city probe of a consultant accused of stealing $3.6 million.
Willard Lanham was tapped by the city to wire public schools for high-speed Internet in 2000. He was arrested in April and is accused of overbilling the city for millions.
Verizon was in on the scheme, according to Schools Special Investigator Richard Condon's office.
The new contract will ensure that schools receive needed technology, Education Department spokeswoman Deidrea Miller said.
"This contract provides day-to-day telephone and Internet services for 1,600 public schools," said Miller.
The arrangement has met with opposition from some members of the panel who believe deals with Verizon should be delayed until the Lanham case is settled.
"It doesn't make any sense to approve this contract," said Patrick Sullivan, the panel's Manhattan representative.
Meanwhile, education officials have postponed a vote on another controversial contract to recover payments from Medicaid for students with disabilities.
Critics say the city's proposed $18 million deal with Public Consulting Group duplicates functions already assigned to an existing program.
The deal is still under consideration, officials said.