State su­per­in­ten­dent blocks White’s ap­point­ment

The Dundalk Eagle - - EDITORIAL - By GIANNA DECARLO gde­carlo@ches­pub.com Fol­low me on Twit­ter @TheAv­enueNews

State Su­per­in­ten­dent of Schools Karen Salmon an­nounced that she is block­ing the ap­point­ment of in­terim BCPS su­per­in­ten­dent Ver­letta White due to con­cerns over White’s past ethics vi­o­la­tions.

In a let­ter sent to Ed­ward Gil­liss Esq., the chair of the Bal­ti­more County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion, Salmon said that the ethics vi­o­la­tions re­lated to White’s fail­ure to re­port out­side pay­ments from Ed­u­ca­tion Re­search & De­vel­op­ment In­sti­tute (ERDI) for four years while act­ing as a school of­fi­cial have caused her to stall the ap­point­ment.

“The State Su­per­in­ten­dent has stated that she be­lieves that the ethics re­view panel’s find­ings ‘cause her con­cern’, and has in­di­cated that the lack of an au­dit is another matter that pre­vents her from pro­vid­ing her ap­proval ‘at this time,’” said White in a state­ment re­leased on Wed­nes­day, May 2.

The let­ter also stated that Salmon will be advocating for an ex­panded au­dit of the BCPS pro­cure­ment process.

White added that she be­lieves that an au­dit would show that the BCPS pro­cure­ment prac­tices are “above re­proach” and that the al­le­ga­tions raised con­cern­ing her char­ac­ter have been based on “spec­u­la­tion and not fact.”

To com­bat these ac­cu­sa­tions, White re­leased the full text of the ethics re­view panel that found two of the six al­le­ga­tions of ethics vi­o­la­tions against her had merit

“I have, from the out­set of my ap­point­ment last year, ex­pressed my de­sire to be ap­pointed as per­ma­nent su­per­in­ten­dent. That de­sire has not changed. As of De­cem­ber 2018, the lo­cal board of ed­u­ca­tion will be, for the first time in Bal­ti­more County’s his­tory, both elected and ap­pointed. This ma­jor shift in the school sys­tem’s leadership is another rea­son for my de­sire to re­main as su­per­in­ten­dent to pro­vide sta­bil­ity and con­ti­nu­ity,” White con­cluded.

On Tues­day, April 17, the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion of Bal­ti­more County voted 8-4 to make White the per­ma­nent su­per­in­ten­dent of Bal­ti­more County Pub­lic Schools.

Salmon said that if the Board re­quested it, she would ap­prove a sec­ond in­terim term for White or some­body else. She said this would give the school sys­tem enough to con­duct a com­plete au­dit and re­lease the in­for­ma­tion be­fore de­cid­ing who will take over the per­ma­nent po­si­tion.

Through­out the process, many op­po­nents of White have cited her sim­i­lar­i­ties with ex-BCPS su­per­in­ten­dent S. Dal­las Dance.

In March, Dance pleaded guilty to four counts of per­jury for fail­ing to re­port al­most $147,000 worth of out­side in­come dur­ing his time as county su­per­in­ten­dent. In April, he was sen­tenced to five years be­hind bars with all but six months sus­pended alone with two years of pro­ba­tion and 700 hours of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

“We need to get away from the prob­lems that were at­tached to Dal­las Dance,” said Del. Rick Im­pal­laria (R-7). Af­ter the school board voted in White’s fa­vor, Im­pal­laria sent out a re­lease urg­ing con­stituents to mes­sage Salmon about block­ing the ap­point­ment. He said this gar­nered a lot of re­sponses and in­put and this back­lash most likely con­trib­uted to Salmon’s fi­nal de­ci­sion.

“We need to wait un­til new school board is elected and let them start a new vet­ting process, start the search all over again. We need to leave it up to them and let this be their first op­por­tu­nity to jump right in and do their job,” said Im­pal­laria on the fu­ture of the su­per­in­ten­dent po­si­tion.

Del. Bob Long (R-6) told the Ea­gle last month that “we’ve sim­ply lost con­fi­dence in the cur­rent leadership of BCPS and we need to keep look­ing for a new su­per­in­ten­dent. We need a fresh start.”

Another out­spo­ken leg­is­la­tor against White was Del. Kathy Szeliga (R-7) who signed a let­ter to the Board of Ed­u­ca­tion dis­cour­ag­ing the ap­point­ment of White, crit­i­ciz­ing her “lack of re­sponse to our con­cerns and ques­tions about is­sues in BCPS.”

“Dr. Salmon stood on the side of the cit­i­zens of Bal­ti­more County”, said Szeliga in a state­ment. “She has given them the abil­ity to plot a new course for Bal­ti­more County Schools in this year’s his­toric elec­tion. I hope the Bal­ti­more County School Board will fol­low her lead and make a tem­po­rary se­lec­tion, be it Ver­letta White or some­one else.”

White, how­ever, has a sup­porter in Bal­ti­more County Ex­ec­u­tive Kevin Kamenetz. Kamenetz, who is run­ning for the gu­ber­na­to­rial po­si­tion Gov. Larry Ho­gan cur­rently holds, lam­basted the de­ci­sion and said Ho­gan in­flu­enced Salmon’s fi­nal de­ci­sion.

“Larry Ho­gan has a trou­bling pat­tern of play­ing pol­i­tics at the ex­pense of chil­dren’s ed­u­ca­tion. He’s cre­ated tur­moil over the school cal­en­dar and the school con­struc­tion process. Now he di­rects his schools chief to take the un­prece­dented step to over­turn the judg­ment of the lo­cal school board who knows Su­per­in­ten­dent White best. He’s shame­less!” he stated in a press re­lease.

Ho­gan’s ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­nied this claim. White’s four-year term was set to be­gin on July 1, 2018.

PHOTO COUR­TESY OF BCPS

BCPS In­terim Su­per­in­ten­dent Ver­letta White.

Mary­land State Su­per­in­ten­dent Karen Salmon.

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