S. Dallas Dance, former superintendent of Baltimore County Public Schools, pleaded guilty to perjury charges during an appearance in court on March 8.
Prosecutors are seeking a sentence of five years in prison, with all but 18 months of that term suspended. A sentencing hearing will be held on April 20.
In January, Dance was indicted on four counts of perjury for failing to report almost $147,000 worth of outside income during his time as county superintendent.
The indictment, announced by State Prosecutor Emmet C. Davitt on Jan. 23, concerned Financial Disclosure Statements submitted by Dance in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
The four perjury charges stemmed from what prosecutors said was Dance’s failure to report earnings from Illinois-based education consulting firm SUPES and related Synesi Associates, as well as his failure to report income from his own firm, Deliberate Excellence Consulting, which he established in 2012.
A statement of facts presented by the state prosecutor lays out the timeline, starting before Dance’s tenure as superintendent officially began. According to the document, representatives with SUPES began corresponding with Dance following his selection as superintendent in April 2012. Between April and July 2012, Dance spoke repeatedly with SUPES representatives regarding training that could be offered through SUPES.
In September 2012, Dance contacted SUPES representatives seeking “work as a mentor for principals,” the document notes. Conversations regarding a potential contract continued into October 2012.
In a conversation with a SUPES representative on Oct. 18, 2012, the state prosecutor noted, Dance told the representative that he would fire a BCPS employee that had declined to pursue the contract with SUPES.
The school board approved a no-bid contract worth up to $875,000 with SUPES on Dec. 4, 2012.
After Dance’s relationship with SUPES came to light in late 2013, the state prosecutor’s documents allege, Dance repeatedly lied to the school board and a subsequent ethics panel about the nature of his relationship with SUPES and the fact that he had, in fact, received compensation from SUPES while the firm had a contract with BCPS.
He also, according to the prosecutor, provided false documentation to the ethics panel indicating that any funds received from SUPES would be remitted to the Education Foundation of Baltimore County.
The ethics panel ultimately found that Dance had violated ethics rules by failing to report outside income.
In 2014, the county school board voted to increase Dance’s pay to $265,000, not including benefits, making him one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state. The school board renewed Dance’s contract in 2016, upping his pay again to $287,000.
Dance resigned abruptly in April 2017; months later, reports surfaced that Dance was under investigation by the state prosecutor.
Interim Superintendent Verletta White reacted to Dance’s guilty plea in a statement released on March 8.
“We are saddened by the news but trust the judicial process,” the statement read.
“Now, we must stay focused on our students, our school system, and the important work of teaching and learning that takes place in classrooms every day,” it continued. “Our 113,000 students, 21,000 employees, and the Baltimore County Public Schools community deserve no less.“
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