Brevard Public Schools Sues Harris School Solutions For Fraud, Negligent Misrepresentation

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BLACKBURN: 'we want our money back'

Brevard Public Schools has sued contractor Harris Schools Solutions after the company failed to deliver a $5.2 million software system to manage district finances, purchasing and payroll.

BREVARD COUNTY • VIERA, FLORIDA – Brevard Public Schools has sued contractor Harris School Solutions after the company failed to deliver a $5.2 million software system to manage district finances, purchasing and payroll.

Superintendent Desmond Blackburn halted payments in 2015 and tried to negotiate a resolution with Harris, a company based in Canada, after it missed its own deadline to deliver in 2016.

Those settlement talks were unsuccessful.

Attorney Scott Widerman of Melbourne law firm Widerman Malek filed a lawsuit on behalf of BPS Aug. 18 in circuit court in Viera, Florida.

The lawsuit says Harris breached its contract with BPS and could be liable for fraud, negligent misrepresentation and unjust enrichment at the expense of Brevard County taxpayers.

The school district has paid $4.15 million of the $5.2 million price for the software.

“Our case is simple: We paid for a product we didn’t receive, and we want our money back,” Blackburn said. “We worked with Harris in good faith.”

The software purchase was approved in April 2013 by a previous superintendent and different school board members.

Harris acquired the original vendor, CrossPointe LLC, and the BPS contract in 2015. Harris’ staff has continued to work on testing and developing the software with BPS employees who have lost confidence – and time – in the effort.

Today, about 40 percent of the software has been installed. A survey of BPS employee users found that about three-quarters were dissatisfied with that software. They cited its reliability and efficiency as problems.

The purchase was intended to replace Brevard’s aging COBOL-run “green screen” system with a more user-friendly, web-based system. It also was intended to improve security.

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The legacy system remains in use.

“We tried to settle, we tried to work it out … Now we need to recover our damages,” said Widerman, who represented the school district in settlement talks before filing suit.

Harris School Solutions is a subsidiary of Harris Computer Corporation, headquartered in Ottawa, Canada. It is not related to Melbourne-based Harris Corp.

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