The San Diego County Office of Education has come out the apparent winner in a lawsuit against Infinite Campus, an educational software outfit hired to produce a “student information system” that allegedly failed to deliver. But for some reason, it is trying to hide the news from the public. The story begins back on November 12 of last year when the office filed a breach-of-contract suit in federal court saying that it had contracted with the Blaine, Minnesota, firm to create a computer system that would manage student records for 26 small public school districts throughout the county, along with 12 in Imperial County, 2 in Orange, and 22 charter schools.

The complaint alleged that throughout 2007, Infinite Campus repeatedly promised to fix numerous bugs in the software. “The county was lulled into waiting for a workable system to support its needs,” the suit said, but the company never delivered and ultimately terminated the agreement in April 2008. “As a result of Infinite Campus’ failure to create the system required by the RFP [request for proposal], the county was left without an alternative but to resume a prior method to comply with State Reporting Requirements at great expense to the county.” The software provider responded by filing a counterclaim, alleging it was owed $259,812 in damages.

But on June 9 of this year, according to a settlement agreement obtained from the Office of Education after a request made under the state’s Public Records Act, Infinite Campus suddenly agreed to pay the County $290,000 to end the matter. Details beyond that are scarce, since both Infinite and the County agreed “that they shall not publicize the existence of this Agreement or the terms of this Agreement absent a Public Records Act request, except to their tax accountants and/or attorneys, or as necessary for the enforcement or compliance with this Agreement.”

The parties also agreed “they will not make, or cause to be made, any public statements, disclosures or publications which portray unfavorably, reflect adversely on, or discuss any Party’s performance of any of the prior agreements among the Parties.” The agreement added that “in the event they are questioned” about the case, Infinite Campus and County “will represent that they have amicably resolved their issues with one another and shall not make any additional representations or comments on the subject of said lawsuit or this Agreement.” Neither Infinite Campus nor the office of education responded to requests for comment by press time.

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Comments

SurfPuppy619 Sept. 29, 2009 @ 4:31 p.m.

The County Office of Education is a State of California department. It is not part of the County of San Diego

By Dennis

Then why do they call it the San Diego "County" Office of Education?

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 29, 2009 @ 4:32 p.m.

It doesn't seem to me that anyone in our local government has the slightest interest in best practices, mitigating risks, or proper system definition. It's not their money, and even when projects fail miserably nobody will ever lose their government job.

A little accountability would go a long way.

By Fred_Williams

The gov held ACCOUNTABLE fopr any of their actions???

Bwhahahahhahaha...surely you jest.

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Dennis Sept. 29, 2009 @ 4:36 p.m.

The County Charter includes provisions applicable to the County Board of Education and the Office of the County Superintendent of Schools. The County Board of Education and the Office of the County Superintendent of Schools historically were part of County government but, due to changes in state law, have become separate and independent of County government. Source http://www.sdcounty.ca.gov/bos1/legislation/leg041214.html

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 29, 2009 @ 7:24 p.m.

Well, that explains it.

I think they should rename it the "State Education Department for San Diego County".

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Fred Williams Sept. 16, 2009 @ 11:15 p.m.

The reasons for project failure are very well known:

  • Unrealistic or unarticulated project goals

  • Inaccurate estimates of needed resources

  • Badly defined system requirements

  • Poor reporting of the project's status

  • Unmanaged risks

  • Poor communication among customers, developers, and users

  • Use of immature technology

  • Inability to handle the project's complexity

  • Sloppy development practices

  • Poor project management

We've known about this for over twenty years. The Standish Group reports year after year that only about a third of software projects are ever completed on time and on budget.

It's not just the County Office of Education or the contractor that has failed. Have a look at the San Diego Data Processing Corporation, the quasi-private City IT operation. I've attended classes with people employed by SDDPC, and they were very dim bulbs indeed. It was embarrassing, frankly, to be in the same room with them.

I teach classes on software project management, cost and scheduling estimation, and requirements specification development.

It doesn't seem to me that anyone in our local government has the slightest interest in best practices, mitigating risks, or proper system definition. It's not their money, and even when projects fail miserably nobody will ever lose their government job.

A little accountability would go a long way. How about giving the name of the project manager? He/She ought to be fired. Instead the County is conducting a cover-up.

How many more wasted millions before we wise up in San Diego?

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Dennis Sept. 29, 2009 @ 4:11 p.m.

The County Office of Education is a State of California department. It is not part of the County of San Diego

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a2zresource Dec. 1, 2009 @ 3:24 p.m.

Is this kinda like the deafening sound of silence from the San Diego Community College District after the outcome in NELLIE G. ANDERSON ET AL V. SDCCDF?

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Fred Williams Dec. 1, 2009 @ 9:07 p.m.

A2Z, are you referring to the Foundation suit, the public money put into an entity controlled by the former Chancellor? I was the student rep on the board of trustees during that time.

That story never did get out much...

And what happened to the well-connected real estate speculators who falsely implied they were agents of the SDCCD and low-balled property owners -- and turned around and sold the lots to the SDCCD for a fat profit?

Bonnie Dumanis goes after medical marijuana but ignores this fraud?

Uh huh. Nothing new in San Diego, eh?

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a2zresource Dec. 1, 2009 @ 10:54 p.m.

RE #8:

LOL... somebody remembers... and if I remember right, the foundation mess involved a previous student trustee as well a chancellor...

As for the real estate issue, I wouldn't bet money on this, but wasn't Damon Shamu still connected with SDCCD facilities management when the speculator spectacle hit the fan? The way the story was told in our distinguished daily paper, it seemed that there were some rather tricky issues involving shifting tax benefits to some clued-in middleman's advantage...

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Fred Williams Dec. 1, 2009 @ 11:54 p.m.

I'm working from memory twenty years on, forgive me if I don't remember everything.

The foundation had already been established by Garland Peed, and he'd left the district by the time I was on the board. I don't recall a former student trustee's involvement.

I do recall a very slick presentation from the Foundation to the SDCCD board telling of all the wonderful things it would do with the money and how it was all a wonderful benefit to the District. I don't recall any actual benefits being delivered to students.

Frankly, my efforts were concentrated on things like returning funding for the libraries to be open on weekends and allowing condoms to be sold on campus, as well as coordinating the school calendar with UC and CSU calendars. I also began working on an idea to give students direct access to a transfer credit database so they'd know for sure which courses to take to get where they wanted to go. (So far as I know, this still doesn't exist.)

Please tell me now...I never heard of the final outcome of the Foundation lawsuit. Was the Foundation ordered to return the money? Who paid the costs of the lawyers? I googled it, but didn't find anything right away. Please let me know.

Best,

Fred

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