Former Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Shaun Dallas Dance was indicted today on four counts of perjury for failing to disclose nearly $147,000 in payments on financial disclosure forms for outside consulting—which Dance had pledged not to pursue after ethics violations during his five-year tenure.
Following a 2014 ethics finding–which involved a company, SUPES Academy, now named in the indictment–the Baltimore County school board and Dance agreed that he would “not take any other consulting jobs as long as he works for the school system. Dance also said in a statement that he would be more careful to avoid conflicts,” the Sun reported in 2014.
“Dr. Dance proposed a cure to the violation, and that cure was that he would not hereinafter do any paid consulting,” noted then-school board president Lawrence Schmidt.
Yet Dance did take numerous private consulting jobs, and as superintendent did not disclose related income on financial disclosure forms filed with the school district, the indictment reveals. The disclosure requirement is separate from the ethics “cure,” and, as cited in the indictment, would be “in violation of §9-101 of the Criminal Law Article, Annotated Code of Maryland, and against the peace, government and dignity of the State. CR 9-101, Perjury (CJIS Code 1-0307).”
A possible perjury link was previously reported by this blog on October 26:
“According to amended financial disclosure forms filed “under penalty of perjury” after an ethics finding, Dance reported no personal income from his LLC, Deliberate Excellence, which according to charter records was formed ‘to consult and partner with school systems, businesses and organizations around best practices to obtain maximum organizational outcomes.'”
Dance repeatedly said publicly he was not consulting, and after a second ethics violation told the Baltimore Sun the “LLC was not doing any business and had no income.” This blog also reported that the LLC has been listed as “Not In Good Standing” for the last several months, perhaps linked to the state prosecutor investigation. Each count of the indictment carries a possible 10-year prison term. An arraignment is set for early February.
In the end, what does this mean for the county’s cash-strapped school system, and the more than $60 million in no-bid curricula contracts brought in under Dance, as well as his still-ongoing nearly $300 million digital initiative known as STAT? As the indictment notes: the financial disclosure statements made “under oath or affirmation,” were to disclose and document the superintendent’s “business-related transactions during the preceding calendar year . . . to assure the public and the Board of Education that his impartiality and independent judgment was not impaired by conflicts of interest and to guard against improper influence and the appearance of improper influence.”
The more than $60 million in no-bid BCPS contract spending authorities are held by clients (newly named “professional colleagues”) of the Education Research & Development Institute (ERDI), which was listed in the indictment. Dance was a long-time ERDI consultant—a role undisclosed throughout his tenure. Interim Superintendent Verletta White was also an ERDI consultant and did not report those consulting fees on her BCPS financial disclosure forms, which she termed an oversight. White was not named in the indictment. Despite controversy, White pressed for the expansion of two high-dollar contracts with ERDI-clients which Dance had recently advised, DreamBox Learning and Curriculum Associates/iReady–for an additional several million dollars after Dance resigned in June.
White also has long-term affiliations with the edtech industry via conference panel appearances and as an academic officer at the edtech-promotional Center for Digital Education. Questions regarding independent and unbiased leadership remain regarding the future of academic program decisions, as well as any objective analysis of actual student outcomes under the laptop-per-student full-court press at BCPS. Despite numerous nationwide exposés, the district and majority of the school board plan to expand STAT to all county high schools 9-12th next school year.
Further investigation and an independent, state legislative legislative audit is required to follow the money still flying around the county’s public school district. — JCS
For additional info that broke today:
“A Baltimore County grand jury alleges that Dance, once seen as a rising star in the education policy world, failed to disclose the pay from his private consulting company, Deliberate Excellence, beginning in 2012, The Baltimore Sun reports. Each count of perjury carries a maximum penalty of up to 10 years in jail.The charges also allege that in 2012, Dance negotiated a no-bid contract with the Chicago-based company SUPES Academy to train Baltimore principals while he was earning approximately $90,000 from the company. Former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, a co-owner of SUPES, was indicted on corruption charges in 2015 for steering millions of dollars in no-bid contracts to SUPES. “— Caitlin Emma, PoliticoPro