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A year into new contract, Dance quits as Baltimore County schools chief

Dallas Dance in front of the Baltimore County Public Schools headquarters. (File)

Dallas Dance in front of the Baltimore County Public Schools headquarters. (File)

Baltimore County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. S. Dallas Dance resigned Tuesday after five years in the post, only one year into a new four-year contract with the district.

Dance did not give a reason for his resignation, saying in a statement that he was moving on to a different “chapter” of his career.

“I now transition to another chapter of my career where I will specifically use my passion for equity and access to a quality education to ensure it is provided to all students through school, district, and community leadership,” he said in his statement.

Dance was in the first year of a four-year contract extension, approved in May by a 10-to-2 school board vote, that paid him $287,000 a year.

While he does not have a new job lined up yet, Dance said he has received offers.

“I have received several offers, but I have not firmly decided,” he said in the statement. “I look forward to sharing in the upcoming weeks what I will be doing post-BCPS.”

Dance’s last day will be June 30, the end of the school system’s fiscal year.

While superintendent, Dance had worked with Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz to increase school funding.

The school system has become a battleground in the war between Kamenetz and Gov. Larry Hogan, in particular over the pace of installing air conditioning in district schools. Hogan has said the county is dragging its feet, Kamenetz has said the governor is ill-informed.

“This is a tremendous loss for our county and our students,” Kamenetz said in a statement. “Dr. Dance and I have worked closely together over the last five years and achieved incredible accomplishments including increasing graduation rates for all students, narrowing the achievement gap and making huge progress toward providing healthy 21st century learning environments.”

Edward Gilliss, chair of the school board, said Dance was good for Baltimore County schools.

“I think that Baltimore County has been lucky to have Dr. Dance in a leadership role for five years,” he said. “He’s done a lot of great things to energize the school system and whoever replaces him has big shoes to fill.”

Dallas Dance at County Schools headquarters. (File)

Dallas Dance at County Schools headquarters. (File)

That replacement could be an interim or a permanent superintendent, Gilliss said. Either way, the school board will pick the next superintendent.

If an interim superintendent is picked, he or she would serve until July 1, 2018, according to state law.

Dance’s critics

Dance’s tenure with the school system was not without controversy.

In 2013, he came under fire for taking a side-job with a principal training company that had just contracted with Baltimore County schools without a competitive bid process. Dance was contracted to train principals in Chicago.

He quit the job after criticism and committed to not take any other side jobs while serving as schools chief.

In 2016, a school board ethics probe found that Dance had committed violations by not reporting on his 2012 disclosure forms a limited liability corporation he had created, although he reported it in the following years.

The probe also criticized him for not reporting income from his part-time job as an adjunct professor teaching an online course at the University of Richmond, a job he held since 2008.

After Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential election, Dance drew more criticism when he retweeted a former Montgomery County schools chief’s tweet asking educators to “show your muslim, black, latino, jewish, disabled, or just non-white St’s, that you love them and will protect them!”

When Hogan criticized him for the tweet, Dance reiterated his view in a statement.

“Education is not void of politics and during the last two years, our country has had one of the most divisive campaigns in modern history,” he said. “Comments were made that disenfranchised several groups of students we serve in Baltimore County Public Schools.”

Dance’s stance prompted some, including Republican Del. John Cluster and Baltimore County school board member Ann Miller, to call for his resignation.

But a system spokesperson, Mychael Dickerson, said the backlash was short-lived and Dance received emails of support. Dickerson also said dozens of people showed up at a school board meeting to support Dance.

Academic performance

Dance said he was proud of what he accomplished during his time running the school system.

“I believe our county and region will be better because of our strategic efforts to provide an equitable educational experience for all of our children.”

During his time at the top, Baltimore County saw mixed results in some performance measures.

In 2012, county students averaged a composite 1474 SAT score. By 2016 that average was down to 1336.

At the same time, four-year high school graduation rates improved. In 2012, 84 percent of students graduated high school in four years. Last year, 89 percent of students graduated in four years.





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