“Non-profit” school safety consultants: DO pay attention to the man behind the curtain

Posted by on September 4, 2014

In the legendary Wizard of Oz movie, Dorothy’s dog Toto unmasks the truth behind the smoke-and-mirrors of the Wizard by pulling back the curtain where this small man was controlling the imagery of his being something more than what he truly was in real life. This lesson from Oz is one that school superintendents and boards would do well to remember when examining the credentials and propaganda of potential school safety consultant firms representing themselves as “non-profit” organizations.

Ken Trump’s recent blog post, “Buyer beware of ‘non-profit’ representations by school safety consultants,”  unmasked the wizardry of a couple “non-profit” school safety consultant firms, one from the east coast and another from the west coast. Ken’s investigation revealed financial data showing six-figure salaries and seven figure organizational profits, figures that would leave many questioning whether these entities and others like them are little more than for-profit consulting firms disguised as non-profits.

Claims of non-profit organizational status may be more smoke than substance

Why would a school safety firm attempt to portray itself as a “non-profit” when it is, in essence, basically doing the same type of consulting as for-profit consulting firms? True non-profits are typically charitable, social service and similar organizations. We can only conclude that consultants who try to disguise their business as a non-profit may be attempting to imply that they are somehow more credible and sincere, and not self-benefiting, from the fees they charge for their services.

Ironically, in digging a bit deeper, I found in the biographical information of the head of one eastern U.S. school safety “non-profit” that not only does he indicate that he is the executive director of the “non-profit” safety center, but that he is also the president of “a small for-profit school safety consulting firm” where provides school safety consulting services.  I find it to be a bit disingenuous that the same man who appears to try to leverage credibility and school contracts by suggesting that his “non-profit” company is better positioned to provide school safety consulting services because it is a “non-profit” also operates a “small for-profit school safety consulting firm” operation behind-the-scenes.

Ignore the smoke-and-mirrors wizardry and find school safety experts you can trust

Like Toto in the Wizard of Oz, school superintendents, school boards, and school safety RFP proposal review teams need to pull the curtain back and pay attention to the man behind the curtain. If the wizard behind the curtain is blowing smoke about his or her company being a “non-profit” when they may be little more than a for-profit in disguise or have other “for-profit” functional businesses in operation, what does this say about the person seeking to do business with your school district?

Good relationships between school leaders and their school safety consultants are built upon a foundation of trust. If your potential school safety consultant blows a lot of smoke about their credentials and organizations, pull back the curtain. You may be surprised what you find if you do more than accept at face value the imagery this wizard creates in his or her proposals and web sites.

School districts do not hire “non-profit” architects, “non-profit” law firms or other “non-profit” professional service companies and consultants. They hire credible for-profit companies capable of providing quality and trustworthy services.

If you can’t trust your potential school security consultant to be honest about what his or her organization really is in terms of its structure, how can you risk trusting them with the safety of your children, teachers, facilities, liability, and tax dollars?

Chuck Hibbert

Consultant to National School Safety and Security Services

Experts You Can Trust! 

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