Baltimore County Board of Education vote to offer Verletta White the permanent superintendent job. (Kenneth K. Lam/Baltimore Sun video)
The Baltimore County school board voted Tuesday night to make Verletta White its permanent superintendent, following months of stalemate.
White has been the interim superintendent for the past nine months, during which the school board's ethics panel determined she had previously violated ethics rules as a schools employee. The eight-to-four vote came after fierce debate by a deeply divided school board.
"I am confident that stability, consistency and locally rooted leadership is right for this system," said the board chair, Edward J. Gilliss.
"There has not been a better tryout," said Nick Stewart, a school board member, referring to White's performance as interim. "She is a leader. She executes with grit and grace."
White's four-year contract, including her salary and benefits, will be negotiated with Gilliss. The board will have to vote on the contract. The former superintendent earned $287,000.
By state law, superintendents work on four-year contracts that begin July 1.
A minority of members moved to have White continue in the interim position for another year, but that motion failed. Those members argued that the public deserved to see a national search done by a new board that will be elected in November.
County Executive Kevin Kamenetz expressed his support for White on Tuesday night.
"I am delighted that the board of education recognized the importance of creating stability for students, teachers and administrators," he said in a statement after the vote.
Board member Julie Henn sent an email this week to Gilliss, complaining that the contract with the search firm had not been executed, and therefore, the national search had not begun.
"We have an aggressive search schedule as is, and now we are an additional two weeks behind. This process needed to start months ago. Why was the execution of this contract, approved by the full Board, not handled as a top priority? What are we waiting on?" she said in the email, which she provided to The Baltimore Sun.
White asked to be appointed to the job, and she has the support of the administrators union and some teachers.
But the school board's ethics panel found a few months ago that she violated ethics rules twice when she failed to disclose a consulting job on her financial disclosure forms for several years. She also was found to have benefited financially from her "prestige of office."
She has instituted some policies, including a new grading policy, that have received mixed reviews. She has focused attention in the past nine months on reading and the climate inside schools.
White attended county public schools as a student and has spent most of her education career as a teacher and administrator in the county. She has two children who attend county public schools.
The day after she was named interim superintendent last spring, she said she intended to stay for the long term if the board approved her.
"I am in this for the long haul," White said. "I have a personal and professional investment in Baltimore County. I care deeply about this school system. And so my plans are to stay and to make a difference long-term."