A man implicated in a lawsuit filed by the Public Building Authority (PBA) and Knox County is setting the record straight about his dealings with both organizations despite the pending court fight. The controversy centers around school safety but has also turned political.
PBA, and Knox County, originally filed a $400,000 lawsuit against Professional Security Consultants and Design (PSCD) in March 2012. The suit states that PSCD, did not deliver what it promised at Hardin Valley Academy and Powell Middle School in the mid-2000's.
"I've lost a lot of sleep," Walker said Monday during an interview in the Knoxville office of his attorney, James Christopher Cone.
Mike Walker, PSCD's owner and president, talked with 10News on camera in what he said was his first and only interview about the lawsuit. Walker has owned PSCD for the past 12 years, has worked in the security business for the past four decades, and spent 10 years doing contract work for Knox County Schools.
Mike Walker said has owned Professional Security Consultants and Design for the past 12 years. He said he's been in the security business for the past four decades, and spent 10 years doing contract work for Knox County Schools (KCS).
"I think we've done an admirable job with them. We stand on our reputation with them," Walker said.
He said PSCD was initially responsible for installing security cameras, alarm systems, and monitoring fire prevention systems in 19 schools; that expanded to work in nearly every KCS building between 2000 and 2012. Walker clarified that PSCD was not responsible for setting up infrastructure to run those systems.
Walker lost his contract with KCS over a year ago, after an audit done by Stansell Electric in Nashville showed PSCD was "deficient" in the systems it provided HVA and at Powell Middle School. Security contracts for those schools were with the PBA, since it also oversaw construction of the buildings.
"It was basically when we called about final billing on those two projects and we were told there were some deficiencies," said Walker.
One example of faulty work is a keypad at HVA, which appears to not be connected. Walker said initially the keypad was at a door designed to be an entrance for teachers parking in a nearby parking lot. He said the project plans changed, and the "door moved with the parking lot." He confirmed that PSCD did install the non-working keypad, but that a working keypad was installed at the door that was moved.
"That key pad goes out to an empty field...Yes, I was told to install it that way," explained Walker.
Court documents show that KCS has not joined in the lawsuit with the PBA and Knox County.
Superintendent Dr. Jim McIntyre told 10News KCS's attorney said the district didn't have to, and to his knowledge there have been no issues with PSCD's work at any other schools in Knox County. An important distinction in the work PSCD did at HVA and Powell Middle School was installation versus maintenance.
McIntyre also touched on that issue, "Knox County School's security office does a monthly review of the video monitoring systems to check for any issues with cameras."
Walker said his security systems have a 12 month guarantee, and the school system owns the equipment, and is charge of monitoring its buildings.
"When we had the contract they (the buildings) were safe," said Walker.
Walker and his attorney said they are waiting for the PBA and Knox County to file answers to a request for documents they made back in October, 2012. Documents show Knox County and the PBA did respond in November to say they have some objections to Walker's request, but plan to respond further. However, there is nothing filed past November 16, 2012.
PBA's attorney, Morris Kizer said on Monday afternoon that he no comment on pending cases.
One other note: 10 News has twice requested a copy of an internal review of security at all KCS that the Dr. McIntyre mentioned last week.
On Friday, we were told it would be a few days because some sensitive information needed to be redacted. On Monday we were notified it would take two to three weeks, that the report is being looked at by a lawyer, and the school district has not decided if they can release the report because of its sensitive nature.