Former Baltimore County schools Superintendent Dallas Dance will spend six months in a county jail, a judge ruled Friday.
Dance was sentenced to five years, with all but six months suspended, for four counts of perjury for failing to disclose income for part time consulting work, including payments from a company he helped win a no-bid contract with the school system. He also received two years probation and must serve 700 hours of community service.
Here’s how local public figures are reacting to Dance’s sentencing. This story will be updated as more people weigh in.
It sends a message to people who don't play by the rules. I'm glad to see that there was a penalty for what he did.
Del. Kathy Szeliga
Del. Kathy Szeliga of Baltimore County, a Republican and the House Minority Whip, said ethics, especially at the highest level of an educational system, are important. "Public education is big business, and people should realize that,” Szeliga said. “There's a lot of money in public education."
Is six months an adequate sentence? I don't know. He broke the public trust ... which is going to harm the school system for many years to come.
Del. Stephen W. Lafferty
Del. Stephen W. Lafferty, a Democrat who chairs the Baltimore County delegation, said Dallas Dance has fostered distrust for the school system and has made it more difficult for Superintendant Verletta White to take over. Lafferty said it’s appropriate for Dance to serve jail time, and that he was glad there was a community service component. "This man who created a charismatic look for the future of schools was bilking everybody,” Lafferty said. “He made it seem like he was doing this in the best interest for the school system. He really misled all of us."
Dr. Dance let us all down, but we have outstanding students, teachers and administrators who are eager to turn the page.
Kevin Kamenetz is Baltimore County executive. Earlier in the week, he expressed his support for the appointment of Verletta White as Dance’s permanent successor. White worked under Dance and like him failed to report outside income. She was not charged with a crime. Term-limited from running for reelection, Kamenetz is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
One person’s actions, no matter how abhorrent, do not define our school system.
Julie C. Henn
“Our teachers are our children’s real role models and I am grateful that we have some of the best in Baltimore County,” said Julie C. Henn, Baltimore County Board of Education member-at-large. “They are the ones who have continued and who will continue to move us forward."
You can't just let people walk.
Del. Robin L. Grammer, Jr.
Del. Robin L. Grammer, Jr., a Republican from Baltimore County, sponsored two bills in the wake of the Dance scandal. One that would have required an external audit of the school system failed, but another bill passed and will require Baltimore County School Board members to take roll call votes and post the results online. "If we're going to live in a just society, justice has to be served, even to people well connected to politically powerful people,” he said. “We saw that in action here today."
Alec Ross is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor.
To the extent that the job is now more difficult because of the 'cloud' caused by the former superintendent’s actions, I am saddened.
Ed Gilliss is the board chairman of the Baltimore County Board of Education. “… The board and the BCPS system must continue to be forward-focused and continue to strive to provide educational opportunities to allow our county’s children to be college- and career-ready,” he said.
Dr. Dance's actions damaged this outstanding public school system. It's time to move on, but candidly, I am disappointed in the sentence.
David Marks represents the Fifth District on the Baltimore County Council.
It's tragic. You had someone who had such potential, who so many people wanted to succeed, and then come to find out that we have all been, essentially, duped.
Del. Eric Bromwell
Democratic Del. Eric Bromwell of Baltimore County said Dance “absolutely deserved to be punished.” He said it was sad to see Dance waste his talent “for what comes down to just greed.”
Residents deserve to have confidence in their public officials and institutions. We need to reach a higher standard...
John Olszewski Jr.
Pledging to create an inspector general's office and pursue audits, John Olszewski Jr., a former state delegate running in the Democratic primary for county executive, said the Dance case is "a reminder of the need to commit to open, transparent government."
It is a betrayal of these students' trust. … It’s sad that these kids have been let down.
District 1 school board candidate Pete Fitzpatrick said students he recently spoke with at Johnnycake Elementary School in Catonsville still looked up to Dance. "The look in the eyes of several of these African American children and the admiration they had for Dr. Dance was heartbreaking," he said.
As a history teacher, I know that we need to learn from our past but not dwell in it.
District 1 school board candidate Matt Gresick said he didn’t believe the Dance incident was indicative of the thousands of people meeting students’ needs every day. “We’re moving away from the Dance era to a period of healing and I believe his legacy will be a lesson of caution to proceed with objectivity and self-awareness,” he said.
For Mr. Dance on the human level, I feel badly. Amid such corruption, his legacy is merely that he was the one that was caught.
"The long standing administrative configuration of the public school system is ripe for corruption at many, many levels and has been for years," said Tony Solesky, an unaffiliated candidate for Baltimore County Executive. "This is a comparatively much shorter sentence than what the public has and will continue to endure."
I am surprised and disappointed by today's ruling, as are many other Baltimore County parents and residents.
Al Redmer, Jr.
Al Redmer, Jr., Republican candidate for Baltimore County Executive, said Dance violated the trust of Baltimore County residents for his own personal gain. “His sentence sends the wrong message to would-be white-collar criminals and further erodes what little trust county residents have left in our government institutions,” he said.
It sets a bad precedent for future public officials and deceivers of the public's trust.
"You will get a slap on the wrist for every count of perjury and egregious conduct,” said Richard Young, unaffiliated candidate for Baltimore County Board of Elections, District 1. "As for the legacy that Dallas Dance has left for BCPS," Young said, "Trust no one" and "There will never be justice for all."
He lost public trust and let a lot of kids down.
Lisa A. Mack
“I don’t think the sentence was long enough. I think everyone in public office needs to be held to higher standard, especially when that office deals with children,” said Lisa A. Mack, District 1 school board candidate. “I think six months does nothing to deter future leaders from doing the same thing.”
The legacy is that every student from first grade on has a personal computer at the expense of other resources that they really need.
“The legacy is that every student from first grade on has a personal computer at the expense of other resources that they really need like social workers, school resource officers, and psychologists,” said state Sen. Jim Brochin. He’s running as a Democratic candidate for Baltimore County Executive.
I believe the sentence is too lenient.
“Dance put his personal interests ahead of the third-largest school system in Maryland,” said District 3 school board candidate Mike Petrella.
The sentence is appropriate given the public humiliation and end of his once promising career ... although more hours of public service are warranted.
John Lang III
“His legacy is one of distrust in the leadership of BCPS,” said District 3 school board candidate John Lang III, “and the massive investment in his unproven program providing laptops to every student that diverts funds from other needs of the school system like increased teacher compensation and providing more resources to at-risk students.”
My hope would be that no other school district will trust him with an educational leadership role.
John Egan, District 3 candidate for school board, said he thought six months in jail made a clear statement that what Dance did was wrong. “The School Board clearly failed in its oversight role,” Egan said. “They allowed Dance too much independence and did not ask the tough questions of his leadership decisions.”
Mr. Dance's legacy will include being the first superintendent in the 170-year history of the school system to be convicted of a crime.
“It is my earnest hope that the new superintendent will work day and night to restore the integrity of the Baltimore County public school system,” said District 3 school board candidate Paul Konka.
Dr. Dance should serve more time in jail. I like the community service part of the sentence, however.
Dr. Anthony Glasser
"His legacy continues with crumbling schools that need replacement and others that need updating and air conditioning,” said Dr. Anthony Glasser, District 2 school board candidate. “He also did nothing to reduce all the unnecessary over testing we subject our students and teachers to."
I think six months in the detention center is too lenient.
District 7 school board candidate Rod McMillion echoed sentiments that Dance’s guilty plea eroded the trust of the taxpaying public. “The Maryland state prosecutors recommended 18 months, and I think they are the experts when it comes to sentencing,” he said.
His actions build the case for more oversight and greater transparency.
William Feuer is a District 7 candidate for the Baltimore County Board of Education.
Mr. Dance squandered an opportunity to elevate his professional peers and provide young black students with the kind of role model they so desperately need.
Tara Huffman, representing the school board's fourth district, faulted Dance for poor judgment and betraying trust but said his conviction does not erase his accomplishments. She also looked inward: "There are real questions about the way the school board has handled this entire matter, from how they responded when Mr Dance's wrongdoing came to light, to the steps they took to find the next superintendent."
This system and its students and staff are far better than any one superintendent.
District 2 school board member Cheryl Pasteur said Dance "thought more about himself than he did the children of Baltimore County."
We can judge and point fingers, but we must not linger there long. Our systems needs to begin the process of healing and rebuilding.
Eric Washington, a candidate for the Board of Education in District 7, said, "I believe this tragedy will reveal the true heroes of Baltimore county schools, which is the teachers and the parents of our children. This would be an excellent time for all of our school's PTAs to recruit more parents to come help and be active at their children's schools."
Kevin Marron, Democratic candidate for Baltimore County Executive, said the six-month jail term “doesn’t reflect the damage that it did the system.”
He said the Board’s recent hiring of Verletta White to replace Dance was a mistake that will cause additional problems.
“They are just replicating the mistakes they made with Dance.”