The Baltimore County School Board meets Thursday evening to talk about naming an interim school superintendent for the next year. The issue of whether the current interim superintendent, Verletta White, should remain on the job is dividing not only the school board, but the candidates running for county executive as well.
A divided school board voted to make White the permanent county school superintendent. But State Superintendent Karen Salmon rejected her, citing White’s ethics violations. Salmon also said the county first needs to complete a procurement audit, which would provide facts on whether White should get the job permanently.
Among the candidates for county executive, support for White breaks down along party lines.
Democratic Councilwoman Vicki Almond said she is angry at Salmon for getting involved in Baltimore County’s affairs. Almond said as far as she is concerned, White is the permanent school superintendent.
Almond said, “Are we going to do an audit? Yes. Are we going to have more accountability and transparency? Yes. But she has been elected to do this job for four years. Do it.”
Democratic State Senator Jim Brochin doesn’t go that far. But he does support giving White another year as interim because this year voters for the first time will be electing members to a partially-elected school board.
“You have a new school board coming in and they’re entitled to have a say,” Brochin said.
Former Democratic Delegate Johnny Olszewski said the choice of a school superintendent should be a local decision.
Olszewski said the state superintendent’s rejection of White “leads a lot more uncertainty for our parents, for our teachers and for our entire school system.”
On the Republican side, it’s a different story. Delegate Pat McDonough said White should go.
“After Dallas Dance and the connection between her and Dallas, we need a fresh approach,” McDonough said.
Dance is the former school superintendent who is currently serving time for perjury. White has not been charged with a crime and she says her ethical violations—failing to report outside income — was an honest mistake.
The other Republican in the race, State Insurance Commissioner Al Redmer, agrees with the state superintendent’s decision not to give White the job permanently, but leaves it to the school board to decide who should be the interim for the coming school year.
It’s unclear whether the school board will vote Thursday on an interim superintendent. White has not said whether she wants to be interim for another year if asked, and did not respond to a request for comment.
White’s appointment as interim runs out at the end of this month. By law, the county has to have an interim superintendent in place by July 1 for the next year, be it White or someone else.