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In school leaders, integrity counts

Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance walks to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to plead guilty to four counts of perjury for not disclosing nearly $147,000 for consulting work.
Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance walks to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County to plead guilty to four counts of perjury for not disclosing nearly $147,000 for consulting work. (Kim Hairston / Baltimore Sun)

The recent letter to the editor by Robert Young Dubel elegantly states just how Baltimore County schools have been ethical throughout the years (“Shame on Balt. Co.’s fallen school leaders,” March 13). While serving on the Baltimore County Council during Mr. Dubel's superintendency, I never questioned the integrity of our schools and of Mr. Dubel. Rather, I saw the school's administration working to improve their service to students.

New programs brought to the county government by Mr. Dubel were funded, and each was successful, thanks to him, his staff and the teachers. At times, I was critical of school spending, a result of being a bit too much of a fiscal conservative. Looking at what has happened to spending since, I know how wrong I was. A broader perspective would have led me to praise Mr. Dubel's service. His success resulted from his many years as part of Baltimore County's schools. His vast knowledge provided him with a much deeper insight than most of his successors. That experience resulted in his trust in teachers and thus his involvement of them in decisions. Few superintendents, thereafter, showed that same quality.

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I was moved by Anne Spigelmire Groth's commentary as well (“Baltimore County teachers are used to ‘stopping on a dime,’” Feb. 28). Her description of teachers who fear to speak out about Dallas Dance's top-down management style was telling. Why would any superintendent think that he or she knows more than 9,200 county teachers? There will never be a more knowledgeable source of information than their collective wisdom. Board members, please do not hire anyone who does not ascribe to that fact. No out-of-town candidate has the necessary knowledge to lead effectively as Mr. Dubel did.

The Sun’s coverage of our schools has been excellent. However, one factor missing seems to be the performance of the current school board majority. The board's ultimate failure was understanding their responsibility to oversee Mr. Dance. Had they guided him to respect his contract, it seems unlikely that he would have taken the path that he did, and we would be judging him by his successes and not his guilt (“Dallas Dance and the loss of trust,” March 9).

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Ronald Hickernell, Catonsville

The writer, a Democrat, served from 1978-1990 on the Baltimore County Council.

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