It took some detective work, and reviewing of records from other agencies, but I was able to locate 16 summer interns and 14 student workers on LDOE’s payroll for a total of 30 student workers employed this summer. That’s still a lot of kids roaming around the halls of the department so I can see why it might seem like 100 interns. The highest paid interns earned 20 dollars per hour or the equivalent of around 40k if they were paid annually. The total payroll for all student workers comes to around 350k. All 30 student interns make up about 7-8% of LDOE’s total workforce as of July 2014. LDOE had contracts for at least 5 of their summer interns which I was able to uncover which LDOE did not turn over to me in response to my records request. All of these contracts would now exceed the 2k limit Bobby Jindal has now placed on the Louisiana Department of Education, which I would advise he keep in place indefinitely. If a state department can’t keep track of their own contracts they certainly should not be issuing them. I’m still not quite sure why LDOE refused to supply any information for my very reasonable Freedom of Information request and instead chose to wait two weeks before responding that they had no records responsive to my request.
I noted a few of the student workers and interns are children of current and former employees, but they are making the least amount – barely above minimum wage. I have chosen to withhold the actual names of the student workers and summer interns from this piece but listed below are the areas they are assigned to in the department.
Let me know if you would like to know anything else about the student workers or summer interns.
Since I ran my story on the interns LDOE has been slightly more responsive to my inquiries on other issues which was what I hoped would happen when I published the information I had received in tips. LDOE refused to admit to having any records on summer Interns when I sent them a snippet of their own newsletter (one of several they sent around) announcing these interns. At the very least they should have provided me the newsletters and contracts they had in their possession and which now I have in mine. As for my other stories. . . I think you will be surprised and dismayed to learn what I have been able to deduce from information recently released to me. In some areas it is not as bad as I feared, but in others it is worse. Now I have the actual data to support many of the arguments I have been making over the last few years in regards to RSD, dropouts, graduate counts and charter schools. I much prefer cold hard data (or even the warm squishy data LDOE produces these days which I choose not to speculate on the origins of) over rumor and innuendo. . . but I am also not content to allow LDOE to continue to hide behind a veil of secrecy and reflexive denial as appears to have occurred in the Intern situation.
I am still waiting on some requests to be forthcoming but since the response times have dramatically increased lately I feel comfortable I’ve given the department enough time to respond to my inquiries about press releases they produced two weeks ago.