Cedar Rapids Schools Terminate Contract with Consultant After Social Media Firestorm

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- The Cedar Rapids Community School District told KCRG-TV9 Thursday it had officially terminated its contract with Edwin Javius, president and CEO of EDEquity, a consulting firm based in San Jose, California.

The Educational Leadership and Support Center for the Cedar Rapids Community School District at 2500 Edgewood Road NW. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Mary Ellen Maske, the district's deputy superintendent, said recent activity on social media, including allegations that Javius misrepresented his credentials to other school districts he's worked with in the past, prompted the district to question its contract with Javius.

One such post was on the official Facebook page of the Campbell High School Teachers Association. The post said the Campbell Union High School District had contracted with Javius for equity consulting services, and later discovered that "while Mr. Javius purported himself to the district and its teachers to have a doctorate in Urban School Leadership from USC, he in fact does not." That was posted in September 2014.

KCRG-TV9 confirmed the district, located in San Jose, California, had ended its relationship with Javius.

Javius responded to that post on Wednesday. In his response Javius writes he attended the doctoral program at University of Southern California and completed all course work, but did not finish his dissertation. He also admits to misrepresenting his title as doctor for a time after that.

"This indiscretion has caused great anguish for me personally and professionally," Javius writes. However, he goes on to say, "upon coming to Cedar Rapids there are no documentation [sic] on the contract agreement or on any presentations that I have represented myself as Doctor Javius."

"That became a problem for us this week," said Maske, who said the district had no knowledge of the allegations against Javius prior to his contract signing. "Part of the reason that became a problem for us this week is because the impact of social media and how widespread that was shared."

Maske also told us the district was unaware of a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Kentucky, listing Javius as a defendant in a copyright infringement case.

Maske confirmed the district had paid Javius $268,000 for his equity consulting services, including travel expenses, from the beginning of his contract in January 2014 until it ended on Thursday.

Maske said the district came into contact with Javius when he was doing work with benchmarking consortium schools, which CRCSD is part of. Maske said it's rare to find someone with a background in education, as well as a background in educational equity, and Javius fit that profile. Maske said when he worked with CRCSD, he was seen as an expert in his area.

"He helped us look at those underachieving groups, and created something called 'equity walks,' that we have done in many of our schools, as well as creating our district equity plan," Maske said, adding Javius was able to work well with teachers and administrators while he worked here. She said Javius provided professional learning experiences for teachers, administrators, and the district's diversity committee, going into classrooms to examine if there are equitable opportunities for all students.

Maske told us even though the district is no longer working with Javius, it will continue the equity work based on the plan it developed with Javius over the past couple years.

When we asked Maske if this situation could prompt a closer examination of the district's hiring process, she said the district "has policies and procedures for hiring vendors and working with vendors in our district, and we do background checks that are required by the state of Iowa for any of the vendors."