7:30 AM EDT, April 24, 2012
Baltimore County school board president Lawrence Schmidt's assertion that "the board makes no apology for the selection or the process utilized" to name S. Dallas Dance as our new superintendent ("Selection of Dance involved extensive public input," April 21) is just one more in the lengthening list of displays of arrogance by the leaders of our school system.
True, the search agency provided a link to a survey on the school system's website. However, the primary input citizens were invited to give was to consider the agency's laundry list of descriptors and then select, from that list, a limited number of what we felt were the most important qualities the next superintendent should possess. We also were able to add a brief verbal statement identifying other concerns. It was exactly the same process as the "build your car" feature on automobile websites, which, we know, is not at all the same as going to a dealership, test-driving a vehicle, and, if satisfied with what that vehicle offers as a driving experience, then negotiating the terms by which we seal the deal.
For its questions, the board "developed" its topics from its gathered public input. But how did the board decide which topics to "develop" and which to ignore? Beyond completing an electronic questionnaire and submitting concerns, what direct involvement did the taxpayers have in choosing their newest employee? None.
Compromising the identity and current job security of the candidates certainly wasn't an irresolvable problem for Howard County, which had some of the same finalists as Baltimore County. If residents there had the opportunity to question the candidates live and in person, why didn't Baltimore County do the same? The entire public interview session in Howard County can be viewed by anyone who wants to watch it.
Sorry, Mr. Schmidt, but your political board does owe the public an apology for your total lack of transparency in this process.
George W. Nellies, Towson
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