Baltimore County school officials are to present their proposed budget to the County Council Thursday. At the same time, they’re working on a five-year strategic plan for the schools.
All this is going on while Interim School Superintendent Verletta White’s future remains in limbo, and her supporters on the school board make another pitch to the state school superintendent to allow them to hire her permanently.
Earlier this week, White held a meeting on the five year plan at Randallstown High School. Of the dozen or so questions and comments she heard, only one involved her fight to become the permanent school superintendent, and that was a show of support. The remainder ranged from questions about discipline to the proper use of computers in the classroom.
Even though her position is tenuous, White said she needs to look long term, including asking parents their opinions.
“I don’t think they have a shortage of an opinion and I don’t think those opinions will change this month or next month,” White said.
And when it comes to White, the opinion that matters is that of state School Superintendent Karen Salmon. The school board voted 8-4 to hire White as permanent superintendent. Then Salmon made the unusual move of rejecting White after being lobbied by members of the minority who voted against her.
Last week, White’s supporters voted to ask Salmon to reconsider. Board member Stephen Verch, who supports White, took a shot at fellow board members who oppose her.
“If there is a party that is shameless, the other party cannot be spineless,” said Verch.
School Board Chairman Ed Gilliss sent a letter to Salmon on Tuesday, resubmitting White’s name to be the next superintendent. Salmon had objected to White because she violated the schools’ ethics code by failing to report outside income she made when she was chief academic officer. In his letter, Gilliss included the ethics panel’s report, which says the financial disclosure statement was unclear. White has said it was an honest mistake.
Salmon also rejected White because an expanded audit of the school system’s procurement process has not been completed. In fact, it hasn’t even begun. The call for an audit came after former school superintendent Dallas Dance was indicted on four counts of perjury for hiding payments for consulting work he had done.
Dance pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six months in jail.
In addition to the ethics panel report, Gilliss included in his letter a copy of a legislative audit conducted in 2015, as well as year-end financial statements dating back to 2013.
Board Vice Chairman Nick Stewart said the idea is to provide Salmon with new information.
But at last week’s school board meeting, Ann Miller, who opposes naming White permanent superintendent said she doubted Salmon will reverse her decision.
“When the reasons that she gave for it have still not been met. Nothing has changed,” Miller said.
Miller said resubmitting White’s name was just another delay. The school system needs to have a superintendent in place by July First. And board member Kathleen Causey called Salmon’s decision courageous.
Causey said, “That decision should motivate this board of education to follow through on the comprehensive audit needed to begin to rebuild trust in the board.”
Salmon said she perhaps could name White interim superintendent for another year, but White isn’t ready to go there.
“I think we’ll cross that bridge when and if we get to it,” White said. “Right now I’m just focused on the effective teaching and learning and the permanent superintendency, that’s really my focus for right now.”
Chairman Gilliss told Salmon in the letter he and White would be happy to meet with her to answer any questions.
Salmon declined a request for an interview.