Sun Investigates

Dance quits consulting job with company doing business with school system

Superintendent Dallas Dance quit a consulting job Saturday amid questions over the propriety of his work for a company that does business with the Baltimore County school system.

In an email Saturday to school board members, Dance said he had called the Illinois-based SUPES Academy and told them that he would no longer coach Chicago public school principals.


"While I stand unequivocally behind the fact that nothing is being done wrong, after re-evaluation, I do believe it is in the Baltimore County Public Schools' best interest for me to not continue in any capacity with the SUPES Academy," he wrote in the email.

The issue had become "a distraction," Dance said in an interview. "I don't want that and we don't need it."


The Baltimore County Board of Education still plans to hold a closed-door session Tuesday to discuss Dance's part-time employment with SUPES Academy, board president Lawrence E. Schmidt said.

"I think all of the board members want to talk to him," Schmidt said.

Dance had also been criticized for taking another job when the county schools have been struggling with the implementation of the Common Core and a new teacher evaluation system.

SUPES Academy provides training for school administrators from around the country who are seeking jobs as principals or superintendents.

Dance received training from the company in 2011, before he became superintendent in Baltimore County. Then a year ago, after he got the county job at an annual salary of $260,000, the school board approved an $875,000 contract with SUPES to train 25 principals a year for the next three years.

In August, Dance took a part-time job with SUPES that pays him $15,000 to coach Chicago principals. He flew to Chicago once a month on Saturdays to meet with the principals and talked with them by phone. He said he intends to donate any money he makes, minus travel expenses, to a scholarship for Baltimore County graduates.

The superintendent proposes contracts that come before the school board for approval.

Baltimore County Del. Pat McDonough said Dance's decision to quit the job does not resolve questions about whether it was appropriate to accept it.


"I really believe the whole episode is a case of bad judgment and a lack of sensitivity," said McDonough, a Republican.

Under his contract with the Baltimore County school board, Dance is permitted to do private consulting work with prior approval of the board, as long as the work does not interfere with his job as superintendent.

Dance did not get approval, and the board was unaware that he was working for SUPES until recently.

"In the future, if I decide to do something, I'll tell them first," Dance said Saturday. "But my focus is on Baltimore County. This was a one-time thing for me."