Legal Issues in Bidding

By Edwin C. Darden

School districts are voracious consumers of goods and services. Through frequent procurement, boards and superintendents control how millions of dollars are spent in communities around the nation.

Vendors know this and target their solicitations for everything from paper goods to food for the cafeteria, to cleaning products and office supplies. But the amount of money spent exposes you to two potential problems: temptation for fraud or abuse and possible legal soft spots that spur financial losses.

This column will examine legal issues inherent in both the bidding process and subsequent contract formation. Getting both steps right before the purchase is crucial. With care, you can avoid legal hassles at the outset while maximizing the chances of winning if a lawsuit is filed later.

On big-ticket items, the superintendent recommends various purchases and the board customarily votes to approve spending. Board members, then, ultimately are responsible as a matter of law. And it’s a responsibility you should take very seriously.

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