A divided Baltimore County school board named a longtime Montgomery County administrator Tuesday night to be its next superintendent, passing over Verletta White, who had led the system for the past two years and sought the job.
Darryl L. Williams is an area associate superintendent for eight clusters of schools in Montgomery County, and oversees eight high schools, 15 middle schools and 44 elementary schools.
He has served in a variety of supervisory positions in Montgomery County, the state’s largest school system. He was also a principal at Montgomery Blair High School, one of the highest-performing high schools in the state, from 2007 to 2011.
The board gave no indication before Tuesday night that it would be making an announcement. It had issued a statement a week ago saying it was beginning to interview six finalists. The board is legally required to have a permanent superintendent in place by July 1.
Four of the 12 board members — Makeda Scott, Cheryl E. Pasteur, Moalie Jose and Roger Hayden — voted against the appointment.
"I am honored to have been chosen as the new superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools,” Williams said in a statement. “I will focus on the needs of our students and staff and work to maintain a positive and effective learning environment for all. We have to continue to move our district in a positive direction and listen to stakeholders and students about our successes and areas of improvement and make necessary changes.”
Baltimore County Executive Johnny Olszewski Jr. issued a statement saying Williams brings “a wealth of experience to the job. ... With growing enrollment, increasing diversity, and existing capacity shortages to address, [the school system] faces considerable challenges in the coming years.” He said he looked forward to working with him, and thanked White for her service to the county.
Abby Beytin, president of the teachers union, said she was angry that there was no advance notice.
"We took no position on the superintendent search,” she said. “There certainly was not transparency. Why didn’t they let us know they were going to announce it tonight? Whether they made the right decision. I have no way of knowing. I know nothing about him. All we want is someone who is going to do a great job."
She said that in previous searches the union had been told the names of the finalists.
PTA President Jayne Lee said she was glad the new leader comes from Maryland.
“He certainly has the qualifications for the job,” Lee said. “I look forward to working with him.”
In a news release from the Baltimore County school board, Montgomery County Superintendent Jack Smith said Williams “understands the importance of team work in the critical effort to reach all students. … Baltimore County is getting a smart, committed professional.”
Education advocate Yara Cheikh said she is “relieved Dr. Williams knows our challenges as Montgomery County has faced similar issues and he is familiar with the dynamics of our state and brings leadership experience from the highest performing county in our state. This is good news.”
The board is still negotiating a contract with Williams, but Kathleen Causey, the board chair, said he will earn about $285,000. During the course of the interviews, Causey said, Williams became the consensus candidate.
White, who has spent 24 years, nearly all of her career, in Baltimore County’s public schools, issued a statement saying that she would work closely in the coming months “to ensure a smooth transition and to continue supporting the school system that I love so dearly.”
White said that while she was disappointed in the board members’ decision, she was “appreciative of their consideration.”
White has been interim superintendent since the departure of Dallas Dance two years ago. Dance was convicted of four counts of perjury after he failed to disclose on financial reports that he had a part-time job with a company that had a contract with the school system.
White worked under Dance as his chief academic officer. Her contract allows her to stay on as chief academic officer under the next superintendent. Causey said the board intended to honor the contract but that she didn’t know whether White would be staying.
In 1988, Williams returned to the Washington, D.C., high school he had graduated from four years before, to begin teaching math.
He earned a bachelor’s degree in math from Hampton University and a master of arts in educational administration from American University. His doctorate is from the University of Maryland, College Park. He lives in Howard County with his wife and three children.
His appointment will be contingent on the approval of Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon.