Baltimore County superintendent Verletta White, in email to staff, says consulting job posed no conflict

Baltimore County school interim superintendent Verletta White sent an email Thursday to school district employees saying that she should have reported income she received from a company that promotes education technology firms but that the consulting job did not pose a conflict of interest.

White said she made an “honest mistake” by not disclosing that she has been paid approximately $3,000 a year since 2013 by Education Research & Development Institute to provide feedback to technology companies that pay the Chicago-based firm to meet with superintendents.

For four years White never disclosed on her annual financial disclosure form filed with the district’s ethics panel that she received earned income beyond her school system job.

“When I completed the forms, I was under the impression that I was to only list companies with whom the school system had a contract or a pending contract,” she wrote in the email. “I was mistaken. I will amend them as allowed by policies.”

She also promised to “not make that mistake again.”

But, she added, “I will not allow an honest oversight to be misconstrued as something untoward or unethical. It is not who I am and it is not who you know me to be.”

She said accepting a consulting fee from ERDI does not pose a conflict of interest because the company does not have any contracts with the school system. Many of ERDI’s corporate clients do hold contracts with the county.

“The first thing I’d like to share is that I take great pride in being a person who strives to maintain high moral character every day,” she writes in the email. “Any suggestion otherwise, by the media or anyone else, is simply wrong and a bridge too far.

“I have never been paid by a company doing business with our school system, and the school system has never paid for trips where I participated as a consultant,” she writes. “ERDI does not conduct any business with BCPS. I participated in these sessions on my own time, using vacation days, to do so.”

The Sun reported online Wednesday that White repeatedly filed required county disclosure forms stating she earned no outside income while working as the school system’s chief academic officer, the position she held from 2013 until she was named interim superintendent this year.

Her predecessor as superintendent, Dallas Dance, also failed to disclose income the same company says it paid him in 2014 and 2015, county records show. Dance declared receiving income as an adjunct professor at the University of Richmond, but did not mention payments for consulting work with the Chicago-based Education Research & Development Institute in 2014 or 2015.

Dance did report receiving income from the company in 2016 in a form he filed in April of this year—two weeks after he told the county school board he was quitting as superintendent. The form did not say how much he was paid.

ddonovan@baltsun.com

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