At the Lockport school board's annual reorganization meeting this week, one trustee questioned if the district should continue working with its current investigative agency.
Trustee Kyle Lambalzer said he was "not comfortable" with approving an agreement between the district and Corporate Screening & Investigative Group, LLC. Lambalzer believes one of the owners, Tony Olivo, who recommended the Aegis facial and object recognition system to the Lockport City School District, has a conflict of interest.
"The ownership of that company has an interest in other matters with the board, and I see it as a conflict of interest and I also see it as an eventual financial liability," Lambalzer said.
Lambalzer was the sole trustee to vote against the contract renewal.
Deborah Coder, the assistant superintendent of finance and management services, noted that CSI's work is separate from the Aegis security system, and that the company is hired at an hourly rate. She added that Olivo is not always necessarily the individual from the company that performs investigations on behalf of the district.
Coder said the motion designated CSI as the district's investigative agency allowing the firm to conduct an investigation when and if it is needed.
Olivo noted that the Aegis software system is separate, and that his company has been working with the school district for many years now.
"We have worked with the Lockport City School District to provide investigative as well as security and consulting for eight years," he said. "I don’t think one has to do with the other."
Olivo said his company works with school districts throughout New York state.
Coder explained that the district does not actually get charged by CSI directly, but that it actually charges BOCES and BOCES charges the district. The district receives aid on the service as well, she said.
Coder said the company was used for an extensive forensic analysis of district computers two year ago.
Trustee Heather Hare asked if the board would approve an investigation and Board President John Linderman noted that the board of education would have to OK any work conducted by CSI.
In an interview, Assistant Superintendent of Personnel Lisa Schrader said having an outside investigative agency is necessary for a number of reasons.
"If it's a forensic investigation of technology, number one we may not have a person on staff or the Lockport Police Department may not have a person on staff that can do that task," Schrader said. "Number two, the confidential nature of the potential situation. If it's an employee's computer, let's say, do we want a member of our technology department doing the work where something can be confidential?"