- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The fate of the D.C. government’s two-year, $30.1 million school security pact remains undecided, more than a month after a judicial panel found improprieties in the award of the previous contract.

Janis Bolt, a spokeswoman for the D.C. Office of Contracting and Procurement, said city officials are still studying “all proposals within the competitive range.”

The District had awarded the contract to D.C.-based Hawk One Security Inc., which posts more than 300 guards in approximately 70 school buildings, administrative and Board of Education offices. The company began work July 1.

But the previous contractor, Watkins Security Inc., also based in the District, challenged the award in a legal challenge this summer before the D.C. Contract Appeals Board.

The panel sided in Watkins’ favor in August, finding the contract award “based in substantial part on faulty assumptions.” Judges cited problems in Hawk One’s drug-testing policy and its project-management experience.

Watkins officials yesterday said they’re not sure whether the company will resume providing security in the schools.

“It’s in the hands of the District government, and it’s up to them to make a move in terms of complying with what the appeals board has said needs to be done,” said Donna Henry, a spokeswoman for Watkins.

In a unanimous ruling, the three-judge panel ordered city contract officials to rebid the security contract or re-evaluate the offers of the two finalists, Watkins and Hawk One.

“In the meantime, the incumbent continues to successfully provide security services,” Miss Bolt said.

Hawk One officials did not return phone calls yesterday, but in the past the company has defended the contract.

Meanwhile, company officials are facing a recent civil lawsuit filed in D.C. Superior Court by the estranged wife of Hawk One’s previous owner, Carthur Drake, who died in 1995.

Sherry Drake claims in legal papers that she is entitled to a controlling interest in the company’s stock. The company’s president, Tyrone Thompson, Mr. Drake’s son-in-law, has not filed an answer to the suit yet.

However, a former attorney for Mr. Drake has sought to dismiss the complaint, calling the lawsuit “nothing more than a proverbial third bite of the apple” resulting from dissatisfaction by Mrs. Drake over her share of the estate.

School security has been a recurring issue of concern for city and school officials over the past year.

The contract dispute between Watkins and Hawk One comes on the heels of a series of audits by the D.C. Office of the Inspector General that uncovered numerous problems.

One recent report found that the Metropolitan Police Department, which oversees the licensing of security guards, had granted licenses to individuals who lied about their criminal histories on affidavits and job applications.

Police have said they corrected the problem by screening all licensed school security guards in time for the start of school.

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