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Four Board of Education members call for emergency session

In light of the recent news about Baltimore County Public School officials’ relationship with education-technology companies, four BCPS Board of Education members have requested an “emergency administrative session” to discuss the issue.

The members — Kathleen Causey, Roger Hayden, Julie Henn, and Ann Miller — say they are “seeking immediate action in response to multiple reports of possible ethics violations within Baltimore County Public Schools.”

They said they sent the request to board chair Ed Gilliss on Wednesday morning and cc’d the full board; as of Friday morning no one has responded, they said.

The four members also wrote to the Maryland State Board of Education and State Superintendent Dr. Karen Salmon requesting “advisory assistance addressing these concerns.”

State Sen. Jim Brochin, who is running to become the next Baltimore County Executive, has also asked the state to conduct a full audit of all contracts related to education technology. Gov. Larry Hogan said the request should be considered.

For several years, Miller has been raising concerns about then-Superintendent Dallas Dance and possible ethics violations but the board had generally supported Dance. (See those stories here.)

Others in the county have also long raised concerns about BCPS’ sudden and strong push to provide all students, in Kindergarten through high school, with their own laptop devices, and with BCPS’ increasing reliance on technology in the classrooms. (See those stories here.)

Recently, the New York Times referenced BCPS in a headline splashed across its front page that said “Tech firms Entice Schools with Steak and Travel.” It went in-depth into the efforts of ed-tech companies to woo school officials to sign on to lucrative contracts.

The Baltimore Sun also ran series of articles recently looking into Dance’s extensive travel while he was superintendent, as well as consulting work done for ed-tech companies by Dance and current interim superintendent, Verletta White.

“We need open and honest communications between the Board and the system for us to effectively address conflicts of interest  and wider issues that ultimately affect our students. Currently such an environment does not exist. It is our hope that can change,” Causey said in a joint statement Friday with the other three board members.

Op-Ed: BCPS needs to show us the money when it comes to technology initiative

Op-Ed: Answers thin, logic thinner in BCPS tech initiative

-Kris Henry, 
The Towson Flyer

 

 

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