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PR Firm Bill Falls in BHPRSD Solicitor's $10K-$15K Estimate

A Philadelphia public relations firm brought in to handle the 'media barrage' in the wake of charges against five Triton High School educators costs nearly $15,000.

Fifteen days is all Black Horse Pike Regional School District (BHPRSD) needed from the Philadelphia public-relations firm it brought in to handle media inquiries and crisis management in the wake of perhaps the biggest scandal in district history.

Braithwaite Communications' bill fell within BHPRSD Solicitor John Wade's estimate that the Philadelphia PR firm's services on the Triton teacher-student sex case would cost the district $10,000-$15,000.

The final bill: $14,883.84.

Of the $14,883.84, $14,425 went to pay for 74.5 billable hours worked by Braithwaite staff, while $458.84 went to sub-vendor PR Newswire for distribution of the district's original statement to media outlets.

The nearly $15,000 invoice was submitted to Wade's law firm, Wade, Long, Wood & Kennedy, which hired Braithwaite on behalf of the district.

The law firm brought in Braithwaite on Oct. 3 after consulting with district officials about an anticipated "media barrage," according to Wade.

According to Wade, Long, Wood & Kennedy's billing statement for October 2012, it began discussing the short-term contract with Braithwaite and other companies on Oct. 2.

BHPRSD does not have a public information officer on its payroll.

"By doing this, we've created a situation that gives the central office and our legal staff more time to deal effectively with the issues that we were dealing with on a 24-hour basis," Wade told a sometimes hostile crowd at BHPRSD's Oct. 11, 2012, meeting.

It was during that mid-October meeting that Wade assured residents Braithwaite would only cost up to $15,000.

Braithwaite account supervisor Sarah Lindsay was on the case by the time charges were announced against five Triton educators accused of either participating in or covering up teacher-student sexual relationships at the Camden County Prosecutor's Office building in Camden on Oct. 4.

A breakdown of the services for which Braithwaite was paid to provide the district, direct from the Oct. 31, 2012, invoice it submitted to Wade, Long, Wood & Kennedy:

  • 5 hours - Crisis counsel, strategy and planning
  • 25 hours - Communications materials: media statement, phone scripts, email news statements, letter to parents, website statements, media policy staff email, video message scripts for students
  • 11 hours - Black Horse Pike Regional School District Board Meeting: report to the community, talking points, scripts, question and answer documents, communications coaching for Superintendent staff
  • 15 hours - Handling of all media inquiries (questions, fact verification, updates, statements)
  • 5 hours - Media monitoring, news coverage summary reports (as needed)
  • 8.5 hours - Client communications
  • 5 hours - Attendance at Camden County Prosecutor's Office press conference, Black Horse Pike Regional School District Board Meeting

Two of the three Triton teachers accused of engaging in inappropriate relationships with students during the 2011-12 school year pleaded guilty to an official misconduct charge on Feb. 11, as did one of two administrators accused of covering up the relationships.

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Paul J. DiBartolo March 03, 2013 at 02:19 PM
Well, I feel much better. It was definitely worth it because when I hear the name "Triton High School", I just begin to think flowery thoughts like what a great educational institution Triton is... Can we break any of this down? Let's see... 5 hours - Crisis counsel, strategy and planning What the heck, they spent 5 hours in a B.S. session strategizing and planning on how to crisis counsel... How much crisis counseling was done? Exactly who was so broken up over all this that they needed crisis counseling? The other teachers? The administrators involved in the cover-up? Oh, this just keeps getting more and more absurd.
Matthew Steffen March 03, 2013 at 02:37 PM
This is why billing by the hour is never a good idea. It makes lawyers and universities feel warm and cozy, but in the end, time is the measurement of effort and not value. I always say that I can charge you 4 hours a day for the next 6 weeks to solve this problem, or I can solve it today for this much. People should always pay for value-added, not hours.
Debbie Shinn March 03, 2013 at 02:46 PM
Here - Here, but I wanna make $1,000.00 a day!!!!!
GTWatchdawg March 03, 2013 at 02:50 PM
Where is the accountability to the BHP school board? Is this why we haven't heard a word from them? So is the PR firm doing the school board's job?
@xxLouA March 03, 2013 at 07:25 PM
The board makes a yearly salary, I think to sit on their rear ends and they just want to share it. So now maybe they will raise SB taxes or whatever it is they call it hagd
Schu March 03, 2013 at 09:02 PM
Get ready to open your wallets and purses, we are all going to pony up for triton's mistakes.
Stanley Holmes March 03, 2013 at 10:42 PM
It's all a racket the board is probably getting a kickback for bringing in the taxpayer funded pr firm... Really what was the purpose? The school district is not a billion dollar company that has an image to uphold based on a product that makes money for them it's all a racket
Jason March 03, 2013 at 11:05 PM
It's all connected back to the blue building on Coles Road. The Democratic club. The school board, elected officials, and the man who controls the party. They run the show and they decide who wins school board, council, mayor, fire commission. They treat you real good and make you feel special, but the minute you see the wrong they hunt you down like a pack of wolves. My uncle was part of them before he died. He said they Are bought and paid for, they do what they Are told or they lose everything. They have no compassion and do exactly what is expected of them. They aren't man or woman enough to stand up because they're afraid A bunch of chickens in a hen house.
Jason March 03, 2013 at 11:13 PM
Money laundering. Whose going to notice. They control everything in Camden County, right? What's a cool 10 or 15k in missing money. They're protected. They're the law, right? It's election time, Wades part contributor and so is long and Kennedy. They got to get The current Mayor re-elected.
Schu March 04, 2013 at 01:52 AM
It's our fault we keep voting for the same candidates every election season.
Jeff March 04, 2013 at 02:21 AM
It's not our fault Schu, the Sneaky Mayor and his political party use sports teams to give awards out to the kids and host events for the rest of the groups in town and he shows up like Andrews does with the seniors and they schoooze up to the people and smile in their face like they care and the people wind up coming out to vote for them. The mayor makes sure he destroys any opposition that's why he gets lots of campaign kickbacks so he can use to destroy and discredit anyone who runs against him by getting his print shops to make it look like he's a great guy and so is his team, they didn't raise taxes, and then they run a negative commercial to destroy their opponent and make himself look good. If that's not enough, he resorts to playing games with the votes and the election machines. It's a vicious cycle. In order to beat them, you need to get seriously organized and have the right people in place to run against them. People who can get votes and beat them. They need to get out and host events and do the same thing they do, but only better. That's how you beat them.
Jeff March 04, 2013 at 02:34 AM
This Mayor is nothing, but it's the people he positioned in place that help him get re-elected. He's sneaky and lies that's a known fact. He's got his people running sports, cheerleading, senior events and award nights and he uses them to help boost his votes. They can be beat, but it's how bad you want to beat them. There are alot of things that you can do to beat them. 1ST GET organized and stick together like they do. Their jobs and finances depend on their winning. That's why they play dirty. Know the players and know the game. It's all a game. How you play it will determine how to beat them. It takes organizing and strategizing just like they do. Stop selling each other out and know who you can really trust in your camp. See who they are playing up to and you'll know not to trust that person. Mayer has a lot of snakes in his camp and they are working both sides of the fence. Many are reporting back to him just so they can get a leg up.
mathforeveryone March 04, 2013 at 02:42 AM
When the lawsuits are done add that to this cost and I bet it will cover all of the additional aide the state had planned on giving Black Horse Pike Regional. Why not go to a K-12 district and save a lot of money! Most districts are K-12 or they are trying to move that way.
Darren Gladden March 04, 2013 at 05:47 PM
WOW why can't we do that ...........That sounds like a good plan
Stanley Holmes March 04, 2013 at 06:36 PM
This is just the tip of the iceberg there is much much more to come... Stay tuned
Schu March 04, 2013 at 09:10 PM
Next smart move by the council is to buy a military drone to surveil the residents of GT
SJ Birds Fan March 05, 2013 at 01:27 PM
I really don't have a problem with this. Its what the district had to do. If they did a good job I might even say its cheap.
Schu March 06, 2013 at 03:01 AM
The BOE isn't paying the bill, we the taxpayers are.
Sybil Evans March 06, 2013 at 01:46 PM
I was under the impression to run for school board and serve your community you had to live in town which would mean the members are tax payers. So Schue your statement is not very truthful.

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