Baltimore Superintendent Dance Under Fire Over Consulting Gig

Baltimore County Schools Superintendent Dr. Dallas Dance created a bit of a controversy when he quit a consulting job over the weekend.  Dance had agreed to train 10 Chicago principals once a month for the SUPES Academy.  The company seeks out and trains exceptional leaders.

State Delegate Pat McDonouhh is now asking the Baltimore County school board to end an $857,000 agreement it had with SUPES to train its principals.

According to his contract, Dance is allowed to take consulting work, so long as it does not conflict with his job as superintendent.  Any such work is contingent upon approval from the school board, which Dance did not seek in this situation, claiming he believed he only needed to do so once a year, reports Liz Bowie of The Baltimore Sun.

“I acknowledge that better professional judgment should have been exercised in the SUPES Academy situation that occurred earlier in the school year,” Dance said. “I didn’t recognize it at the time, but I realize that the relationship indeed creates a conflict. I will definitely be more sensitive to the importance of avoiding situations that create conflicts, or even the appearance of a conflict and will be more careful in the future.”

Dance cut ties with SUPES once the school board discovered his side job.  He claimed it was becoming a distraction.

“We have enough problems and challenges in Baltimore County where Dr. Dance at $260,000 a year should be paying full attention to the children of this county, not looking for part-time work,” McDonough said.

Earlier this year, Dance had been involved several other conflicts, the most recent of which involved cutting the positions of more than 100 technology teachers in an effort to expand a new technology program where all teachers would be using tablets or laptops, not just the technology teachers.

“We want all teachers to become fluent users in the technology as part of their instruction instead of students gong to a computer lab once a week,” said Billy Burke, the county’s assistant superintendent of organizational development. “We want it embedded in the instruction.”

The teacher’s union filed a grievance against the school system saying the new plan forced them to work longer hours.

Dance had also come under fire in regards to the school system’s relationship with edCount, LLC, a company which was supposed to provide language arts programming to 53,000 of the area’s elementary school children.

School officials severed the contract with edCount LLC after criticizing the company for missing deadlines, not giving the project adequate staffing and refusing to communicate with key employees. The company, meanwhile, argued that school staffers were “abusive,” imposing unrealistic deadlines and making changes that required extra work.

After a lengthy investigation, an ethics panel for the school board did not find Dance was being paid for the position with SUPES.  However, it did ask Dance to not accept any more consulting positions while he is superintendent, according to a report on WBAL.