By Yepoka Yeebo
MANHATTAN — News Corporation announced a deal to buy 90 percent of an education technology company championed by Joel Klein on Monday, just two weeks after hiring the outgoing schools chancellor, according to reports.
The deal, which sees Rupert Murdoch's media company agreeing to buy Wireless Generation for $360 million in cash, calls into question whether the outgoing Educaton Department chief broke any of the city's conflict-of-interest rules, The New York Times reported.
Wireless Generation helps the Department of Education run "School of One," the $7.5 million pilot program that tailors individual lesson plans to students' progress. Klein said the process allowed learning "in a way no classroom can," the paper reported.
Wireless Generation also built ARIS, the school system's $80 million online network for tracking student achievement, according to reports.
According to the city's conflict-of-interest rules, city employees are prohibited from disclosing confidential information about city business dealings and strategy, both during and after their tenure, the Times reported.
Former city employees are also barred from working on matters they were involved with while employed by the city, according to the paper.
News Corp. insisted that Klein was not involved in the deal to buy Wireless Generation, and the Education Department said Klein had recused himself from deals between the two companies, the Times reported.
On Wednesday, during an interview with Klein on WNYC, Brian Lehrer asked the outgoing chencellor if it was a coincidence News Corp. hired him and then agreed to buy Wireless Generation.
"Is it a coincidence?" Klein said. "I mean, I assume News Corp. has been looking at opportunities. I mean they want to be in this area and so they decided that Wireless made sense for them.
"I've said publicly I think Wireless is a very talented organization so I'm happy that they bought them."