Court documents allege CEO sought to influence research on Istation

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In a lawsuit filed against Istation in 2010, company co-founder and former CEO George Grayson alleged that current CEO Richard Collins had proposed a plan to give a “gift” of $150,000 to his alma mater Southern Methodist University in return for a study “that would be favorable to the company.”

Collins and Grayson founded Istation in Dallas in 1998.  According to court documents, Grayson was Istation’s sole shareholder until 2006 and served as the company’s CEO from its founding until 2007, when he was ousted by Collins following a recapitalization.

In 2010, Grayson filed suit against Istation and Collins for breach of fiduciary duty.  In that complaint, Grayson alleged that, in 2008, Collins had announced his plan to the company’s board to pay for research showing Istation in a positive light:

The allegations add an interesting wrinkle in North Carolina, where the public continues to seek clarity on how Istation was able to win a multimillion dollar K-3 reading screener contract despite the reported recommendation of a broad evaluation team that the contract be awarded to Amplify for its mClass product.  

One criticism of Istation in comparison to mClass has been the relative scarcity of independent research on the tool’s efficacy.  When he announced his decision to give Istation the contract, State Superintendent Mark Johnson referred to the company’s “proven results of helping students grow.”  Interested members of the public reached out to Istation to find out more about those proven results.

Istation obliged by providing links to just a handful of studies, three of which were written by a Dallas professor who it turns out actually works for Istation:

In addition to providing some shaky research, Istation is continuing its PR offensive.  Today company president Ossa Fisher spammed state legislators with quotes by anonymous North Carolina public school teachers who, of course, just love the new product.   

Istation-anonymous-testimonials-from-NC-teachers

Fisher claims Istation was “designed to make life easier for educators.” Let’s be clear.  Istation was designed to make money. Mr. Grayson’s allegations may shed some light on just how far Istation’s leadership is willing to go to turn that profit.

(h/t Chelsea Bartel for unearthing the court documents)

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