The Baltimore County School Board heard last night from the county council chairman, two teachers of the year and others who want Interim School Superintendent Verletta White to be given the job permanently.
That show of support comes as there are calls for both a state audit and an expanded county audit of the county schools’ finances.
This wasn't the first time Council Chairman Julian Jones has asked the board to make White the permanent superintendent. He did it back in November as well. What’s different is he and the other members of the County Council last week asked the State Legislative Auditor to conduct an independent audit of the county schools. Jones said he wanted to make it clear to the school board he still supports White for the job.
Jones said, “The letter last week was all about restoring some public trust. And that was a letter basically looking backwards at what happened under the leadership of Doctor Dallas Dance.”
Dance, who resigned unexpectedly last April, was indicted last month on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in pay he received for private consulting with several companies and school districts. Some of that money came from a company that represents education technology firms that scored no-bid contracts worth millions from the county school system.
The county school board is ordering an audit of its own and is hashing out now its scope. White said she would be ok with both a state and county audit if it comes to that.
“We have multiple audits every year," White said. "So if that’s what the public needs to feel reassured that their taxpayer dollars are being used responsibly, then certainly as a school system we’re open to that.”
White, who replaced Dance as interim superintendent, admits she also received consulting income of around $3,000 annually for four years from the company, Education Research & Development Institutes, and did not report it.
White said that was an honest mistake. She has not been charged with a crime and has agreed to accept no more income outside what she gets paid by the county.
The school board is considering launching a nationwide search for a new superintendent. White said she still wants the gig permanently.
White said, “I know that the support that is inside and outside the system that I’ve received, I’m overwhelmed by the support and I’m thankful and grateful for it.”
Some of that support came last night from the two most recent teachers of the year in Baltimore County, including Pikesville High teacher Orly Mondell.
“Her deep understanding that we are human," Mondell said. "We make mistakes. We learn from those mistakes. And we do what’s necessary to rebuild trust is a model that we can all learn from.”
The county school board is now deciding the size and scope of its audit. Currently it covers purchases made from 2014 to last year, and zeros in on technology contracts. There is a proposal to have the audit go back to 2012, Dance’s first year as school superintendent. County Executive Kevin Kamenetz said he supports both a county audit, and interim school superintendent White.
“The real issue here is that Dallas Dance is no longer superintendent," Kamenetz said. The contracts that he was pursuing are no longer in effect.”
The county’s state senate delegation also is deciding whether to weigh in on what a county audit should look like.
Meanwhile, interim superintendent White said expanding the audit would delay it, because the job would have to be put out to bid again.