For months, Leeds Global Partners, a New York-based firm specializing in educational issues as "attractive investment opportunities," has been closely involved in developing Conn. Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's proposed school reforms.
And while the governor's major proposals, including teacher evaluations, changes to tenure and the expansion of charter schools are meeting opposition in the General Assembly and the state's educational community, Leeds Global's school-privatization agenda has been front and center in a variety of closed-door negotiations.
Unionized teachers and a leading state lawmaker take the privatization proposals -- including plans to circumvent teacher contracts and public bidding procedures -- as major threats, underscored by the company's track record in creating individual agreements with teachers hired to turn around failing urban school districts.
Leeds was awarded a $195,000 contract, without prior public notice for bids, with money from the State Education Resource Center. The nonprofit center was set up in 2005 to support local and regional school boards, according to contract documents obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers.
Another investment group with interests in education, DSA Capital, was awarded a $60,000 consultant deal. Like the Leeds contract, this was championed by first-year state Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor, according to the documents and interviews with sources close to active negotiations.