A hearing on the Baltimore County superintendent search Tuesday night became a referendum on whether Verletta White, the interim, should be given the job permanently.
Dozens of school system employees came to the public meeting carrying white carnations to support White, saying she understands the county and would represent stability after a time of rapid change and disillusion.
But others told the school board they believe White had ethical lapses that would prevent her from leading the system. White, they said, had been tainted by being part of the administration of the former superintendent, Dallas Dance.
Dance pleaded guilty to perjury last week in Baltimore County Circuit Court for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 he earned from consulting jobs, including payments from a company he helped win a no-bid contract with the school system. Prosecutors are recommending he serve 18 months in jail.
White was Dance's chief academic officer and acknowledged that she didn't fill out the financial disclosure forms correctly. She said she made an honest mistake and filed corrected forms.
"I want a superintendent that hasn't already had ethics violations and one that does not lie on official documents," said Sue Doyle, a parent. "We need new perspective and new ideas leading the way. Not Dallas Dance 2.0."
On the other side were retired and current principals and high level county school employees who said they valued White for her connection to the community. She graduated from county public schools, has worked in the system for years and has children who attend county public schools.
They praised her academic leadership and said she would help ensure that all children are given equal resources.
Some speakers said the current school board should put off any decision until the November election when voters will elect school board members and a new county executive. The new board should be the ones to pick the new superintendent, they argued.
The school board has not yet said whether it will do a national search, appoint White for another year or as the permanent superintendent, or find another interim school superintendent to take over for a year.
White has been in the job since Dance left on June 30. She is seeking to become superintendent.