—– By: Ann Costantino —–
Seven months after an ethics panel found former Superintendent S. Dallas Dance in violation of his contract for consulting for now defunct Chicago-based educational consulting firm, SUPES Academy, the former Baltimore County Public Schools education leader entered into a $42,501.06 contract with Pasadena Unified School District to provide leadership training for the system’s existing and aspiring principals.
Through his limited liability company, Deliberate Excellence, LLC (DELLC), Dance signed a four-month agreement with the California-based school system totaling $38,000, including an additional $4,501.06 in reimbursements for travel and other expenses. The training included a system-wide leadership speech as well as in-person and virtual (Google Hangouts) personalized leadership development, coaching, mentoring, and support for up to 15 Pasadena principals and aspiring leaders, between February 1 and May 30, 2015.
With a population of over 18,000 students and roughly 30 schools within the system, records obtained by The Baltimore Post, through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, show that Dance, through DELLC, single-handedly led the Pasadena school system training by personally coaching Pasadena school system leaders on topics including Leadership and Instructional Strategies, Common Core Curriculum, Accountability, Human Resources and Relations, Learning and Managing Change, Equity, Budget, and Community Relations.
Records show travel reimbursements for four flights, hotel stays and parking fees that occurred in February and April of 2015. All of the travel appears to have occurred on weekdays, with one flight leaving on a Wednesday afternoon.
The sometimes out-of-state training would all occur while Dance’s home school system of Baltimore County was under contract with principal training consultants of its own, SUPES Academy, with which the system contracted for up to $875,000 to train Baltimore County aspiring principals and administrators in a school system with a student population of 110,000 at the time. Baltimore County schools would end up paying $525,000.
On January 23, a grand jury indicted Dance on four counts of perjury for allegedly failing to disclose – under penalty of perjury – $147,000 in income and his LLC on his financial disclosure forms. Records obtained by The Baltimore Post show that roughly 91% of the money Dance failed to disclose was earned through consulting work done for other school systems. The $42,501.06 Dance earned from Pasadena Unified Schools is included in the indictment.
Dr. Brian McDonald, superintendent of Pasadena Unified schools, did not respond to a request for comment nor answer questions regarding knowledge of Dance’s consulting restrictions. As a consequence for the 2014 ethics violation, Dance was able to choose his own “cure.” The former superintendent said he would refrain from doing any more paid consulting work.
McDonald, who provided a testimonial for a consultant company that Dance apparently formed after resigning from BCPS, the DDance Group, said of the training,”Dallas Dance is a leader among leaders. His work with Pasadena Unified School District provided inspiring and actionable guidance for administrators, teachers and community leaders alike.”
Both McDonald and Dance worked at Houston Independent School District at the same time, before both education leaders moved to their respective school systems within a year of each other. A spokeswoman for McDonald told The Baltimore Post that McDonald hired Dance to train his staff for the school system’s preexisting leadership development – “principal pipeline” – program because he knew Dance to to be an inspiring speaker from work he saw Dance do in Houston schools.
While working with Pasadena schools in 2015, Dance also gave a keynote speech for the Pasadena Educational Foundation, a 45 year-old non-profit organization whose mission is to support, enhance, and supplement the programs, initiatives, and priorities of Pasadena Unified schools. Dance was also reimbursed for travel expenses for the event. The income and travel reimbursements for the speaking engagement are also part of the perjury charges stemming from Dance not disclosing the income on his financial disclosure forms.
Patrick Conyers, the school system’s Education Foundation executive director, released a statement to The Baltimore Post stating that, “Dance was the keynote speaker at our organization’s annual spring event on May 20, 2015. We paid him $3,000 to be our keynote speaker at that event, and we reimbursed him a further $838.01 for his travel and lodging expenses related to that speaking engagement. We have entered into no other agreement with Dr. Dance, and the $3,838.01 is the entirety of our payments to Dr. Dance.”
When asked what Dance’s speech was about, Conyers told The Post, “I recall (Dance) speaking about his background and sharing his ideas on how best to motivate young people and educators to reach their potential, and how communities can help.” Conyers said the speech was “positive and motivational” and that Dance’s “remarks were well received.”
Dr. Dance’s trial date for the perjury charges is March 8 and will be held at Baltimore County Circuit Court. He did not respond to a request for comment.
This story will be updated.