Baltimore County school board chairman cautions against rush to judgment on Dallas Dance

Baltimore County’s Board of Education did all it could to assure that former superintendent Dallas Dance properly ran the school system but it is not the board’s job to manage the district’s daily operations, board chairman Edward J. Gilliss said in a statement.

In an email provided to The Baltimore Sun on Wednesday night, Gilliss defended the district’s 12-member governing body and cautioned against rushing to judgment about the perjury charges filed against Dance this week.

A Baltimore County grand jury on Tuesday indicted Dance on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose what the Maryland State Prosecutor’s office says was nearly $147,000 in consulting income Dance earned while superintendent. Dance, who left his job in June, and other district executives are required by ethics rules to disclose all outside income to assure the public that their financial affairs do not present possible conflicts of interest.

Earlier in the week, Gillis issued a statement saying that he was “saddened to learn” about the charges against Dance, who was hired in 2012.

His latest statement addressed criticism that the board did not provide proper oversight of Dance. Gilliss said his statement expresses his personal view and that he is not speaking for the entire board.

“I believe that the Baltimore County School Board has been a positive steward of the trust placed in it by its elected officials on behalf of the community. Although some may disagree, we should not rush to justice on the charges against Dr. Dance, as he is fully entitled — as are we all — to allow the justice system’s process to afford opportunities for all to be heard.

“The Baltimore County School Board has appropriately established standards for those over whom it has oversight. The Board can only ask for compliance with its directives. The Board cannot ensure compliance with its directives.

“The Board, as a group of volunteers, can create compliance parameters but cannot ensure that those standards are followed. The Board does not possess powers such as subpoena power, nor should it.

“There are reasons that our system has compliance entities such as prosecutors. Those roles should not be imposed upon community governance entities such as school boards.

“School Boards must be allowed to be entities to provide governance (and not oversight of day-to-day administration) of local school systems.

“The role of a public school board member is not to seek air time or newspaper ink, but to guide the delivery of 21st century education opportunities to all students regardless of race, social status or economic condition.

“I do not believe that this Baltimore County School Board has failed in pursuing its assignment. Instead, I believe it has accepted its assigned volunteer tasks and has honestly shouldered those responsibilities.”

ddonovan@baltsun.com

twitter.com/dougdonovan

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