BY ANN COSTANTINO
As part of the fallout from his perjury convictions last year, former Superintendent Shaun Dallas Dance surrendered his superintendent licenses to Virginia and Maryland state education departments after given the option to either do so voluntarily or have them revoked.
But before he consented to canceling his certifications with Virginia’s State Department of Education (VSDE), he asked administrators to consider his 20 years in education service and to weigh that against poor decisions he said he made while leading Baltimore County Public Schools (BCPS).
In a letter to the deputy superintendent of VSDE, Dance said, “As painful as it is to accept, I completely understand your position and your decision. However, in your letter and as outlined … the Board mayremove a license …” As such, Dance said, “I am humbly requesting that both licenses be maintained if at all possible. While I do not contest the allegations in the petition, it is my sincere hope that my body of work not only in the Commonwealth of Virginia but also in other states and around the country is reviewed and taken into account before a final decision is ultimately made, as I believe I can still add value to the students and public schools of the Commonwealth of Virginia, my home state.”
Dance was convicted on four counts of perjury last year for failing to report $147,000 in income on his 2012, 2013 and 2015 financial disclosure statements, money he earned consulting for other school systems and organizations while leading BCPS, the country’s 25th largest school system. Roughly $90,000 of the income was earned while Dance worked for a school system vendor.
The disclosure documents are required to be filed annually by school personnel who have the ability to spend or direct the spending of system funds. The forms are signed under penalty of perjury.
In April, Dance was sentenced to serve six months in a Baltimore County detention center, but was granted a transfer to a Henrico County jail near his home in Virginia where he served four of the six-month sentence. He was released in August.
Records, which were obtained by The Baltimore Post through a Freedom of Information Act request, show that the following month, the VSDE sent Dance a “Petition for the Revocation” of his “Postgraduate and Division Superintendent Licenses.” After first asking VSDE to reconsider, Dance ultimately decided to surrender the credentials. And according to the records, Dance may reapply for his VSDE licenses in five years.
In Maryland, Dance asked for leniency from Maryland State Department of Education (MSDE) Superintendent Karen Salmon, requesting that his licenses be reinstated after two years, at the conclusion of his probation which is a condition of his sentencing. His request was denied, but he will be eligible to reapply in 10 years.
As part of the agency’s protocol, through a clearinghouse, VSDE also notified state education departments across the country about Dance’s license removals, documents show. But since he volunteered them willingly, his records will show that his licences were not revoked.
In a response to The Baltimore Post’s request for comment about his past and future endeavors, Dance said in part, “… I have the utmost respect and admiration for State Superintendents Drs. Lane and Salmon, of Virginia and Maryland respectively, and I wholeheartedly respect their position and their decisions.” He said, “As I look to the future, I move deliberately and passionately as I aim to ensure the promise I made to the hundreds of thousands of students, families, employees, and others whom I have served throughout my career in front of Judge Cox (sic) is carried out with purpose and is kept. To that end, I will continue to do everything in my power to ensure that a lifetime of striving to live with integrity would outweigh a bad decision and unfortunate lapse in judgement. While most people wish to not discuss their mistakes and failures, I will as I believe that those who persevere from adversity possess a spirit of humility and are therefore inclined to make the necessary changes needed to not only learn but, most importantly, grow.”
In a Twitter message posted this week, Dance announced a new YouTube Channel he created for education leaders, Dialogue w/ Dallas. He is also the author of Deliberate Excellence: Three Fundamental Strategies That Drive Educational Leadership, and he works as a leadership consultant for Infinite Solutions Enterprises and The DDance Group.
Although Dance’s licenses have been surrendered to the state departments, Charles Pyle, an administrator at the VSDE, told The Baltimore Post that the agency does not oversee or license education consultants in the state. “Local school boards are responsible for decisions about the qualifications of the consultants they hire,” Pyle said.
In Dance’s statement to The Baltimore Post, he closed with a comment on his feelings about Baltimore County schools and community. “I would encourage anyone who wants to know the genuine respect, adoration, and admiration that I have for the Baltimore County community to read the ‘Acknowledgements’ in my book. The first paragraph of those words is below and ring true deep in my heart, then as well as now:
Acknowledgement: For five years, I was extremely fortunate to serve as the Superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools in Towson, Maryland, which is located adjacent to the City of Baltimore. Those years were by far the best of my professional life. I led the organization from my heart believing that we could move mountains, and while not literally, we began tackling some large complex issues, which will take time, effort, energy, and commitment to realize its full impact. The strides we made, which garnered us numerous national, state, and local awards were due to the dedication of our teachers, principals, staff, parents, community leaders, and especially our students who rose to the high standards we set for them each day. As this book is about three main areas of my work as Superintendent, I want to personally take the opportunity to thank the entire Team BCPS family for everything you did and continue to do for the students of Baltimore County.”
Dance’s full response can be viewed here.
The Board of Education of Baltimore County has initiated a process to select the school system’s next permanent superintendent. Since Dance left the district in 2017, the system’s former chief academic officer, Verletta White, has filled the role as interim. But White failed to obtain the approval of Maryland State Superintendent Karen Salmon, who declined to approve her twice for the position. The school board will conduct a search for potential candidates through a search firm it has not yet selected. By law, the board is required to hire a permanent superintendent before July 1, 2019. White may also apply for the permanent position.