Dallas Dance resigned in disgrace as Baltimore County’s school superintendent two years ago. But his legacy has remained front and center. In his wake, a fractured school board battled over finding his permanent replacement, and whether the staff Dance left behind could be trusted.
In an interview with WYPR, Dance said he has moved on, but has learned from the mistakes he made.
Dance said he has not been following what’s been going on in the county school system since he left in 2017. For instance, he said he did not know that last year the school board appointed interim school superintendent Verletta White to be his permanent replacement, only to have that decision tossed out by the state school superintendent.
“Verletta is a phenomenal educator,” Dance said. “And it would not surprise me if she is not leading a major school system next year because of her grit, her perseverance and her leadership.”
Last week a new school board rejected White and made Montgomery County educator Darryl Williams Dance’s permanent replacement.
White’s ties to Dance, she was his chief academic officer, proved fatal in her quest to be the superintendent. Dance was convicted of perjury for not reporting money he made in outside consulting work while superintendent.
Dance said his actions may have exacerbated the mistrust that has existed between some members of the school board and his former staff, including White. But he said the mistrust existed before that. Dance said the board that hired him in 2012 and green lighted his controversial plan to put computers in the hands of all students, was changed beginning in 2015 by appointments made by Governor Hogan, and they were skeptical.
“And so with that I think a lot of mistrust had started to come to the forefront a little bit because obviously it wasn’t their plan,” Dance said.
An example of this ongoing mistrust showed itself just this week. In responding to a Facebook post calling on the remaining members of Dance’s leadership team to resign, Baltimore County Republican Delegate Robin Grammer posted to instead, “Hang them high and leave it for the village to see.”
When told about that, Dance’s initial response was “Wow.”
Dance said he had not read about that and has no plans to.
“Any time we don’t take to heart the words that we use, we always have the opportunity to almost exacerbate an environment where hate has been created anyway,” Dance said.
The comment was roundly criticized and has been taken down.
Dance defended his old team, calling them hard working, thoughtful intelligent and committed.
Dance said he’s had no contact with any employees of the county school system since he resigned. Students are another matter.
“I probably still talk to well over 20 students from Baltimore County who have gone on,” Dance said. “They’re in college now. Matter of fact, a hand full of them have graduated just this year.”
Dance said what he misses most about being superintendent is going to graduations this time of year and shaking the graduates’ hands.
He said he takes full responsibility for what he did and he apologizes to the county’s students and their parents. But he added what is most important is making sure all students get a good education regardless of their zip code,
Dance is now the president and CEO of the DDance Group. He advises businesses, school systems, non-profits and others on how to strategize and solve problems.
“The reality is I lost sight of the importance of transparency which is something that I want to make sure as I work with other leaders that they recognize that any time you have to ask a question around disclosure, just do it,” Dance said.
Dance now lives and works in Richmond, Virginia. His nine year old son lives there. Dance said he was honest with his son about his conviction and his time in jail.