Baltimore County school board member Ann Miller filed a formal request last week under public records law for detailed information about the school system's performance. She wants the information before she takes a vote on whether to renew the superintendent's contract.
Miller said she took the unusual step of filing the request under the Freedom of Information Act because the school system has failed to provide her the information in a timely manner. She said she had made requests beginning in September and that the school district has not provided any answers.
Miller, who was appointed to the board last fall by Gov. Larry Hogan, said the board will vote on the superintendent's contract and the proposed budget on Febuary 2. She requested the information be provided by January 29.
The board must decide whether to give Superintendent Dallas Dance a second four year contract by March 1. His contract expires in July.
Miller's request includes a two page list of information, including student performance data, annual data on staffing, special education, magnet schools, facilities, the management of printing and teacher quality. She also wants detailed information about Dance's contract. In addition, she asked for the date and description of his participation on every panel discussion, advisory board meeting, interview, or talk he has given. She also requested detailed documents about contracts the school system had with certain companies.
Miller provided the letter to news organizations. She would only agree to be interviewed if The Baltimore Sun promised to publish all of the pages of her document. The Sun refused to meet her demands.
"The board asked for a number of documents from the superintendent in order to consider his request for reappointment," said Mychael Dickerson, the superintendent's spokesman.
"All board members received that information, including Ms. Miller."
Miller said in the letter that the information she received was inadequate.
"My requests were met with resistance, were ignored, perpetually delayed, or refused by both the board leadership and the school system staff," she wrote.
Dickerson said the request would be handled in the usual manner through the law office.
Any member of the public can file a Maryland Public Information Act request to get information about the functions of government. Governments have 30 days to respond, although they are encouraged to respond as quickly as possible.