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NAACP: Keep Verletta White in charge of BCPS

Meet Verletta White, the new interim Baltimore County Schools superintendent. (Kim Hairston/Baltimore Sun video)

During these days of crisis for Interim Superintendent Verletta White, many people are concerned about Baltimore County Public Schools and, most importantly, the present and the future of the students who attend them (“Interim superintendent Verletta White highlights Baltimore County schools successes in speech,” March 21).

Two years ago, Ms. White, then the system’s academic officer, was given a limited contract to serve as interim superintendent after the previous superintendent resigned in disgrace. Since then, she has provided stellar leadership for the system. Yet she has repeatedly met resistance and push-back from a small but vocal group on the school board. They have questioned her ethics and were able to scuttle a plan by a majority of school board members to award Ms. White a four-year contract last year by asking State Superintendent Karen Salmon to intervene.

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Ms. White had failed to disclose income earned for part-time consulting work on the ethics form which she acknowledged and made amends for, but Ms. Salmon still used it as justification to deny the appointment. “That breach of trust causes me pause,” she wrote in an April 27 letter. She also said she wanted to see the results of an external audit into the school system’s contracting processes prior to approving a long-term contract with Ms. White.

A draft report of the external audit is in, but the school board is refusing to release it despite calls from the county executive and others to make it public. And so, the school system remains in limbo as Ms. White’s temporary contract nears its end and no permanent replacement has been identified. Clearly, she should be awarded the position.

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As interim superintendent, Ms. White has made implementation of literacy goals across all disciplines and improved climate top priorities for the school system. She has created the BCPS Division of School Climate and Safety which includes the Student Discipline and Student Behavior Council. She conducted listening and learning tours throughout the county to share system-wide priorities and receive input and feedback from parents and students. And she expanded career and technology education and training programs. That’s just to name a few of her accomplishments thus far.

Ms. White has not been afforded due process during her tumultuous journey to become the first African American woman to be appointed as superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools. Despite a lack of support from the school board’s leadership, Ms. White remains steadfast and clearly focused on ensuring that 114,000 Baltimore County students receive a quality education.

Anthony S. Fugett, Baltimore County

The writer is president of the Baltimore County branch of the NAACP.

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