Capital Gazette wins special Pulitzer Prize citation for coverage of newsroom shooting that killed five

Letters reveal Baltimore County school board members' attempts to block White's appointment as superintendent

Liz Bowie
Contact ReporterThe Baltimore Sun

One week after the Baltimore County school board voted to give interim superintendent Verletta White a four-year contract, two dissenting members rebelled.

In an unusual move, Ann Miller and Kathleen Causey wrote letters to Maryland State Schools Superintendent Karen Salmon in late April, urging her to reject the decision of the board majority. In Maryland, the appointment of local superintendents is subject to the approval of the state superintendent.

The Baltimore Sun obtained the letters through a Public Information Act request.

“I implore you to deny the appointment of Verletta White as the permanent superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools,” Miller wrote. “This is not a request I take lightly as a member of the board.”

Miller told Salmon the board had engaged in a “faulty process” that didn’t include a national search for a new leader.

Causey, in her letter, said she was writing as an individual board member and “as a parent of a student in Baltimore County Public Schools.”

“The Board of Education did not perform the due diligence nor proper process required for one of the most important decisions entrusted to us,” Causey wrote in a four-page letter.

Causey argued that not only was the selection process flawed, but the board also is in the midst of a major transition. She pointed out that a new board of eight elected and four appointed members will be in place after the current members’ terms end in December.

Miller and Causey pointed out that White violated ethics rules by failing to disclose a consulting job with a company that represents education technology firms. And they noted that an independent audit of how the district awards contracts had not yet been completed.

The board named White interim superintendent last year after Dallas Dance resigned. Dance was later indicted on charges of perjury for allegedly failing to disclose nearly $147,000 he earned from consulting jobs. He pleaded guilty and is serving a six-month sentence in a Virginia jail.

Rarely has a state superintendent blocked an appointment, unless the candidate did not satisfy the legal requirements for the job, including the number of years of teaching and the number of academic credits obtained.

Salmon informed the board in a letter dated April 27 that she was declining White’s appointment.

Salmon cited some of the same reasons as Miller and Causey in their letters. But spokesman Bill Reinhard said they “had no bearing on her decision.”

The county school board resubmitted White’s name for consideration. Salmon did not approve it.

The board then appointed White to another one-year term as interim superintendent, beginning in July. It will be up to the next school board to hire the next superintendent in 2019. White will be eligible to apply for the job.

Copyright © 2019, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad