Sen. James Brochin called me this morning to tell me a story and to express his concern about the way the search for Baltimore County superintendent was handled. 

Brochin said he had lunch at BlueStone in Timonium about six months ago with the school board president and vice-president and urged them to include parents and advocates as part of the search team. Given the problems in communication and the issues that had emerged in the past year, Brochin said, he told the board they should be particularly sensitive to making sure the public was part of the process.

That is exactly what did not happen, he said. "I am just flabbergasted....I went way out of my way to ensure that things wouldn't turn out like this." When asked if the board should have delayed the process if they felt they were in competition with Howard County, Brochin said he "can't believe that no one else was of equal caliber that this had to be done so quickly."

Brochin said he hopes that S. Dallas Dance turns out to be a good superintendent. "We should give this guy a chance." But, he also believes that the board made another blunder by not introducing Dance to members of the public the day the announcement was made. Instead, Dance flew back to Houston, where he is in charge of middle schools for the Houston Independent School District, and then didn't call anyone that day. Because no one can talk to him and meet him in person, Brochin said, "You have got a big void."

Brochin said he hopes the damage can be repaired. "I think he needs to get on an airplane and get up here," he said.

Brochin may be the most outspoken, but I have also gotten a number of e-mails and phone calls in the past several days from teachers, administrators and parents who say privately that they are deeply upset abouts Dance's lack of experience and the way the process played out.