Verletta White says she’s not interested in returning to be Baltimore County’s next school superintendent
The Baltimore County School Board is looking for a replacement for Superintendent Darryl Williams, who announced last month he will not seek a second four year term.
As the search begins, some are lamenting the one that got away.
For a moment in 2018, it looked like Verletta White, who had been a student in the Baltimore County Public Schools as a child, and spent much of her career there, would become the next superintendent. The school board picked her to replace Dallas Dance after he resigned amid a perjury scandal. But State School Superintendent Karen Salmon intervened and blocked White’s appointment due to an ethics violation.
Salmon, who is now retired, declined to be interviewed.
Even though the top job in the Baltimore County schools is open again, White said she is not interested.
“Well that’s funny,” White said when asked. “I would have to say no.”
White had a lot of support both within and outside the school system when she was vying for the job five years ago.
“I do think Verletta was the right person,” said Tom Quirk, a former county councilman. “I think we missed the boat on it.
Quirk has been a harsh critic of the current superintendent, Darryl Williams. Williams was selected in 2019 by a school board divided with one faction wanting to again offer the job to White, who at the time was the interim superintendent.
Board member Moalie Jose said Williams has never had the full support of the board.
“Any leader cannot be successful if they cannot implement their vision, their strategy, without support of the governing body, in this case the school board,” Jose said.
The board is now searching for its fourth leader in six years.
“We have tons of research that shows when you keep switching leaders, it actually brings down graduation rates, achievement rates, when you keep having different superintendents,” Jose said. So I hope that this board comes together and supports the next superintendent wholeheartedly.
It is a tortured path that brings the school board to this point. Former Superintendent Dallas Dance was convicted of perjury for lying about outside income and served four months in jail. Members of the school board wanted White gone too, due to her connection to Dance as his chief academic officer and her own less serious ethics infraction.
White had not disclosed outside income as well. She said at the time that she was confused by the financial disclosure forms and amended what she had submitted. Unlike Dance, she was never charged with a crime.
The previous board was infamous for being labeled dysfunctional by a consultant, split in factions in open warfare at hours-long meetings.
It will be a very different school board that will pick the next superintendent.
Nearly all of the seats on the 12-member board will have different people in them than the one that chose Williams. Former Councilman Quirk said this board should pick s school superintendent based on competence, not politics.
“Just find the right person,” Quirk said. “A nationwide search, cast a wide net. I have a lot more confidence in this current school board, which I think is hopefully 180 degrees opposite of the past one.”
Former school board member Nick Stewart, who supported White to become superintendent, has confidence in the new board and its leadership.
“If we have a true opportunity to refresh and try to turn the ship in the right direction in the course of the next few years, we should do it,” Stewart said. “Time is of the essence. It’s hard to tell kids to wait.”
Former school board member Kathleen Causey, who chaired the board during the last superintendent search, did not respond to a request for comment.
White currently leads the school system in Roanoke, Virginia.
She was hired in 2020 and two years later the Roanoke City School Board extended her contract to 2026. She was recently named regional school superintendent of the year. She recently successfully defended her doctorate in urban educational leadership from Morgan State University.
White said her mantra from when she led the Baltimore County Public Schools hasn’t changed. She wants every student to graduate with both a diploma and a resume. For instance, she is expanding career and technical training in the Roanoke City Schools.
“When I first got here, it was interesting to me that we have career and technical education programs, and we have college readiness programs as well. But I found that many of our students didn’t have access to those very important programs.”
White said she’s been working to make those programs available throughout Roanoke and that the school board and the community support what she is doing.
“I think that this is kind of rare in the world right now where everyone has a differing opinion when it comes to politics and where things are so polarized,” White said. “That’s not our story.”
Darryl Williams steps down as Baltimore County School Superintendent June 30. The school board is in the process of hiring a search firm to help it find the school system’s next leader.