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Baltimore County school board has received draft audit of school finances, but declines to release it

The Baltimore County school board has received a draft audit of its purchasing practices in the five years that former Superintendent Dallas Dance led the school system.
The Baltimore County school board has received a draft audit of its purchasing practices in the five years that former Superintendent Dallas Dance led the school system. (Karl Merton Ferron / Baltimore Sun)

The Baltimore County school board received a draft audit of the school system’s finances, but board leadership declined this week to release it publicly.

Board chair Kathleen Causey told The Baltimore Sun in an email that the board’s ad hoc committee on external audit received an initial draft report on Jan. 18. The auditor, she said, will be preparing “another draft for review in the weeks ahead and then a final report.”

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“When the report is final, it will be shared with the full board and then the public,” Causey said in the email.

Causey said the draft audit doesn’t need to be made public because it is not final and not subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act.

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The school system hired an outside accountant last year to audit its purchasing practices amid questions about the awarding of millions of dollars in technology contracts.

The Baltimore County school board hired an accounting firm on Tuesday night to do a year-long, $413,000 audit of the system’s contracts in the wake of the conviction of its former superintendent.

Parents and legislators called for the comprehensive audit covering the five years of the previous superintendent’s tenure. The superintendent, Dallas Dance, pleaded guilty last March to four counts of perjury for failing to disclose that he had been paid for consulting work, including by a company that was awarded a contract with the school system.

The school board hired the accounting firm of UHY, a national firm with offices in Columbia, to conduct the audit. It was to cover a time period from January 2012 to December 2017.

At its last board meeting on Jan. 22, school board member Russell Kuehn said the board’s audit committee had received the report and was speaking with auditors about it.

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“We will be working back and forth to complete the audit draft so that it is presentable to the board,” he said.

The school administration said it would not prevent the release of the audit.

“We are not standing in the way of the release of the audit. We accept the current draft as prepared by the independent, external auditor,” said Mychael Dickerson, the school system’s chief of staff.

Dance abruptly resigned as superintendent of the nation’s 25th largest school system in April 2017, citing the toll of the job on his family. It later emerged he was under investigation at the time by the state prosecutor.

In January 2018, he was indicted on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in pay he received for private consulting with several companies and school districts beginning in 2012. He pleaded guilty to the perjury counts in March 2018 and was sentenced in April to six months in jail. He was released in August after serving four months.

Verletta White has been serving as the school system’s interim superintendent. The school board has not yet hired a search firm to seek a permanent schools superintendent.

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