BALTIMORE, Md. – Former Baltimore County school superintendent Dallas Dance is under investigation for his ties to the education company SUPES Academy, the same company that landed former Chicago Public Schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett in prison.
Investigators with the Maryland State Prosecutor’s Office launched an investigation six months ago into Dance’s involvement with SUPES Academy during his time as Baltimore County superintendent, which ended with his abrupt resignation this April, The Baltimore Sun reports.
Dance took training classes with SUPES Academy while he was an administrator in Houston, before landing the Baltimore County superintendent’s job in July 2012. By the end of the year, he had talked the school board into approving an $875,000 no-bid contract with SUPES to train dozens of principals in the district over several years.
The next year, he was busted working for SUPES on the weekends in Chicago, where the company had a $20 million no-bid contract with the help of former Chicago schools CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett, according to the news site.
“He again courted controversy last year when a BCPS ethics panel concluded that Dance had violated ethics rules by failing to report outside teaching jobs on financial disclosure forms,” the Dundalk Eagle reports. “While Dance had informed the Board of Education about his work with the University of Richmond, he did not note the work on financial disclosure forms from 2011 to 2015.”
Byrd-Bennett, also known as federal inmate No. 48517-424, now resides at the Alderson Federal Prison Camp, which goes by the nickname “Camp Cupcake,” The Chicago Tribune reports.
Byrd-Bennett was convicted of scheming with SUPES to secure its contract in Chicago and accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in bribes, on top of her $250,000 a year salary.
During Byrd-Bennett’s four-and-a-half year stay at the minimum security prison in West Virginia – the same prison where Martha Stewart served her sentence for insider trading – her pay is capped at $5.25 a month, according to the Tribune.
In Baltimore County, Dance was outed by The Sun for working for SUPES while raking in $260,000 a year as superintendent, and he eventually came clean and vowed to donate his SUPES pay of roughly $10,000 to $15,000 to the Education Foundation of Baltimore County Public Schools.
The school board alleged Dance never received approval for the side work, and school officials alleged he never made a donation to the foundation.
State investigators are now examining Dance’s relationship with the defunct SUPES, including the district’s $875,000 no-bid contract with the company. Investigators subpoenaed district records, and are now interviewing folks involved with the school district about Dance’s dealings, the Sun reports.
The news site points out Dance is also not the first Baltimore area administrator to tango with SUPES.
“Sonja Santelises, now CEO of the Baltimore City school system, worked for SUPES Academy for two days in New Jersey in the summer of 2012, when she was the city’s chief academic officer,” the Sun reports. “Santelises sought advice from the city ethics panel before she did the work, then used vacation time to do the training. She donated the money she earned to city schools…”