Paying to play in Baltimore County Schools?

Lawmakers to question top administrator

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - Once a rising star in education circles, Former Superintendent Dallas Dance faces perjury charges for failing to report consulting fees in the six figures, and to a lesser degree, Interim Superintendent Verletta White, never reported more modest fees she received on an yearly basis.

State Senator James Brochin (D-Baltimore County) says that double-dipping has to stop.

"She said it was an oversight over four years and each year she was supposed to report outside income, and we may have a legislative fix for that,” said Brochin, “Senator Jennings and I have put a piece of legislation in that we've just ordered that said from now on, any superintendent can't have any outside income.  I mean, my goodness, you're got $259,000 a year, you get a car, you get a housing allowance, you get a credit card to go to lunch and breakfast with people all the time.  I mean, 'Enough!'"
    
Despite initial resistance by school administrators, Brochin insisted on an audit of some of the spending practices in the Baltimore County Schools system, and questions surround what access companies received due to dance and whites' outside work.
    
Brochin says at the heart of the matter is a Chicago-based company called Education Research and Development Institute or ERDI, which offered free flights and easy money to administrators while charging tech companies to give them exclusive access to them.

"You can do a bronze membership for $5,000, a silver member ship for $8,000 or a gold membership for $10,000 and they're guaranteeing sit downs, and I just thought it was a very unusual way of doing business,” said Brochin, “It didn't pass the smell test for me."
    
State senators will question White over those relationships in Annapolis on Friday raising concerns, which may extend well beyond a failure to report making money on the side.

"I had never seen so many no-bid contracts and the problem and the reason I don't think we're finished with this dilemma is some of these no-bid contracts were in direct relationship to the meetings that ERDI facilitated between the technology companies and the former superintendent and the current superintendent," said Brochin.
    
House leaders from Baltimore County also plan to question White in two weeks, and they, like their Senate counterparts, are expected to question the school board's ability or lack of it in providing oversight as the outside work and no-bid contracts unfolded.

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