Dance will be guest teaching in middle and high school classrooms

When Interim State Superintendent Bernard Sadusky decided to waive the state law to allow Baltimore County to hire S. Dallas Dance to be the next school superintendent, he gave it on the condition that Dance be a guest teacher in a middle and high school this coming school year.

State law requires superintendents to have three years of teaching experience, but Dance has only two, in a high school near Richmond. In addition, he did not take teacher preparation courses in college. So the school board sought a waiver from Sadusky, who is the one who must give permission for the board to hire Dance. Over the past 20 years, no waivers have been granted in Maryland, but Sadusky said he is not sure how many times the former state superintendent,Nancy S. Grasmick was even asked. "I think each case is so individual that you are going to have to look at it on a case by case basis," he said.

Sadusky granted the waiver after two days of study.  Sadusky  said he weighed heavily the fact that Dance was the school board's first choice. In addition, he called Prince George's County superintendent William Hite who had hired Dance for his first teaching job in Virginia. Hite gave Dance his first teaching job and had great reviews for him.

"He was absolutely successful in the classroom," Sadusky said Hite told him. But Sadusky said he would have preferred Dance had the requisite experience. "I am a big advocate of the classroom experience. You refine your skills over time," he said. "I think it is important for all our administrators to understand what that experience is like."

Jasmine Shriver, a Baltimore County parent, wrote to Sadusky asking him for an explanation for the waiver. "He does not have the credentials to run the 26th largest school district in the nation. We cannot develop his talent as we go along," Shriver said. 

Dance said that he is looking forward to teaching some classes, and he would also like to try his hand at an elementary classroom, as well as the middle and high school classes he will be required to teach as part of the requirement for the waiver.

Sadusky said he hoped that the experience will give Dance a better "understanding of what is going on in Baltimore County."

With Dance a finalist for two different districts, Sadusky acted  in two days. "I think having looked at the qualifications and checking recommendations I was comfortable. Why prolong the process,"Sadusky said.

Baltimore County's school board is expected to vote Tuesday to make Dance the next superintendent. The meeting will be held at 6 pm in the school board's regular meeting room.

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