Ex-Leader of Baltimore County Schools, a Tech Booster, Pleads Guilty to Perjury

Mr. Dance has been at the center of questions about close relationships between Baltimore County school officials and education technology companies seeking the district’s business. An article in The New York Times in November profiled the district as a case study in how tech companies court and cultivate relationships with school officials.

Mr. Dance, who became superintendent in 2012 and announced his resignation 11 months ago without citing a reason, was no longer employed by the district and was already under investigation by the state when The Times’s article was published. His actions have been also been the focus of reporting by The Baltimore Sun.

Baltimore County’s schools had embarked on an ambitious technology makeover, committing more than $200 million to providing laptops for students and millions more on no-bid contracts for learning apps. The Times found that tech industry-funded groups or vendors paid for flights to conferences, as well as hotels and dinners, for school officials.

In court documents, the state said Mr. Dance had concealed about $12,000 in payments he received through his consulting work in 2015, including $4,600 from the Education Research and Development Institute — ERDI for short — an organization that pays superintendents to attend meetings with educational tech companies.

ERDI has charged companies $13,000 to organize a meeting with five superintendents or other school leaders to discuss products, according to documents obtained by The Times. After Mr. Dance participated in confidential meetings with two of his district’s tech vendors at an ERDI conference last year, the district extended both companies’ contracts.

A state senator and county representatives have asked the state to audit certain Baltimore County Public Schools tech contracts.

The district continues to pursue large technology deals — with a $140 million contract for student and staff laptops awaiting a vote from the school board.

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