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—– By: Ann Costantino —–
4/17/18 Board Meeting Updates:
- Interim Superintendent Verletta White approved as Baltimore County Public Schools’ permanent superintendent, voted 8-4.
- Board leadership did not allow for nationwide search, despite vote to hire search firm.
- Board Member Julie Henn said board never met to discuss needs of system relative to leadership.
- Comprehensive audit still not initiated by school leadership, despite being announced in September.
- Legislators have complained about superintendent’s lack of response to requests for information.
- Board Member Emory Young said, “Jesus would not be enough for some people on this board.”
- Board Member David Uhlfelder said, “Dr. Dance may have been a failure at the end, but our system is not a failure.”
- Board Member Kathleen Causey said regarding superintendent vote, “There is not consensus; there is controversy.” “I will do my best to represent our stakeholders.”
- Board Member Nick Stewart said County Executive Kevin Kamenetz misled the public with regard to funding for schools, creating problems for Dulaney and Lansdowne high schools.
- Board Member Kathleen Causey: “Every single dollar we spend in one direction is a dollar that cannot be spent in another direction.”
- Vote on Lansdowne High School delayed for two weeks, passed 6-6.
- Board Member Kathleen Causey: “Dallas Dance replaced people to support STAT initiative.”
- Board Chair Ed Gilliss: Dallas Dance was first superintendent to be convicted of criminal activity in the history of Baltimore County Public Schools; signs resolution denouncing his behavior.
Balt. County school board to vote on hot topics, including hiring permanent superintendent, sans national search
Baltimore County’s school board will meet tonight to discuss what is anticipated to include some pretty heated topics, including hiring interim Superintendent Veretta White as the system’s permanent superintendent in lieu of conducting a national search, and passing a contract to renovate Lansdowne High School instead of offering a desired replacement.
Each issue is expected to draw a larger crowd than usual.
The meeting follows the system’s last board meeting that occurred earlier this month in which District Six Board Member Stephen Verch, Esq. surprised fellow board members with a 10:30pm motion to amend a contract to hire search firm Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA) to lead the nationwide search for Baltimore County’s next permanent superintendent. Mr. Verch moved to hire Ms. White on the spot, that evening.
But while the search firm contract passed, the actual search has not yet begun, leaving some board members suspicious of the process leading up to the search for Baltimore County Public Schools’ next permanent superintendent.
Concerned about the process, At Large Board Member Julie Henn wrote to Board Chair Ed Gilliss this morning, inquiring about why nothing has happened with the contract. Ms. Henn said, “Why was the execution of this contract, approved by the full Board, not handled as a top priority? What are we waiting on? Why is it that we can execute a $140 million technology contract faster than we can sign a $75K superintendent search contract?”
At the district’s last board meeting, Mr. Verch surprised his fellow members when he interrupted and said, “In an effort at transparency, I would amend the contract that is before us with the following motion: ‘in lieu of a search firm contract, I move that our board of education offer the permanent superintendent position to Verletta White, subject to a committee appointed by the chair, negotiating a contract with her and/or any representatives of her.’”
District Seven Board Member June Eaton immediately seconded the motion.
Mr. Verch continued, “I do think that things should be done in a transparent and an open way. I don’t believe that there should be some kind of huddle behind closed doors … I want the light of day to shine into these things,” he said.
Board Member Julie Henn then amended Mr. Verch’s motion, asking for the meeting to be moved into closed session due confidential personnel matters that would need to be discussed.
The board remained in open session.
District Three Board Member Kathleen Causey then said to Mr. Verch, “I’m gathering my thoughts after this very shocking motion from you when we have been discussing as a board – hiring a search firm – to all of a sudden come out with that as a motion.”
“Be that as it may,” Ms. Causey continued, “I would remind the board that we have twice now had the Maryland Association of Boards of Education come to us and speak to us about the appropriate way, the typical way, the almost concrete way that boards of our size do executive searches — and that is to hire a firm, to go through the process… to guide us through it.”
At Large Board Member Ann Miller then said to fellow board members, “I believe this board is trying to shoehorn us into one candidate with no other options, essentially a no-bid contract for our next superintendent.”
Board Member Chuck McDaniels, who represents District Four, chose to abstain from voting on Mr. Verch’s motion. Mr. McDaniels indicated that while he felt Ms. White was a viable candidate for the position, he believed that “whoever we select as superintendent will start with a strong foundation if the process that we use is believed to be transparent and open.” He said, “I came to this meeting believing that part of this process would be to have a search firm participate in the process.”
At Large Board Member David Uhlfelder disagreed, saying, “I don’t need anyone from the public to tell me the difference between what I know is good performance and what isn’t.” Mr. Uhlfelder is in favor of hiring Ms. White for the position and says no further input is needed.
Student member Josie Schaefer chimed in, saying, “I agree with Mr. McDaniels. I will be abstaining as well. I guess I really didn’t expect this at 10:30pm at night.” Ms. Schaefer said she appreciates Ms. White, but wished to hear from her peers on the matter before voting.
Ms. Causey then added, “I think it is incredibly unprofessional for Mr. Verch to even put this sort of motion forward… at 10:30 at night, when this was not on the agenda. What was on the agenda was a permanent search and for others to say that we know what the system wants is ridiculous.”
Although the board voted to approve a $75,000 contract to hire Hazard, Young and Attea (HYA) to conduct a nationwide search for the district’s next superintendent, the board also voted to discuss Ms. White as the permanent superintendent at tonight’s meeting, providing two options moving forward.
However, despite the board’s approval of the contract earlier this month, the HYA search firm contract has not yet been executed.
The board will vote tonight. If passed, interim Superintendent White will succeed former Superintendent Dallas Dance as Baltimore County’s permanent superintendent. Mr. Dance left the system in June amid a criminal investigation unknown at the time.
Mr. Dance pleaded guilty last month to four counts of perjury for lying on his financial disclosure forms and will be sentenced this Friday. Prosecutor Emmet Davitt has asked the court that Mr. Dance serve five years in prison, with all but 18 months suspended.
Ms. White was found in violation of her contract earlier this year when the ethics panel concluded she failed to disclose income from a consulting job on her financial disclosure statements. But the ethics panel agreed with Ms. White that the instructions for the forms were confusing.
Unlike Mr. Dance, however, Ms. White is not accused of any crime.
Other topics to be discussed at tonight’s meeting include Lansdowne High School’s renovation contract. Advocates in favor of a replacement high school in Lansdowne are expected to ask the board to consider building a new school instead of the proposed renovation. The renovation contract will be considered by the board at tonight’s meeting.
Also on the agenda tonight is the discussion of several polices, including a policy on nepotism.
The meeting can be live streamed here.