Political Leaders Want Investigation Into Baltimore County Public Schools’ Tech Industry Ties

BALTIMORE (WJZ)– Political leaders want an investigation conducted into Baltimore County Public School’s financial books.

Parents and teachers want transparency while a Baltimore County politician wants to know if digital tech companies are cashing in on school connections.

In a two-page letter addressed to the top offices at the Maryland State Department of Education, state senator Jim Brochin asked for an audit of Baltimore County Public Schools’ $200 million digital strategy contracts. The letter says digital education companies had “unrestricted access to key decision makers” in the school system that gave them an upper hand at winning deals with BCPS, creating “the illusion of impropriety, thereby eroding public trust.”

It all ties back to a company known as ERDI, it houses more than 100 education technology firms, including some senator Brochin says work with BCPS.

The Baltimore Sun reports that both former superintendent Dallas Dance, who resigned in April, and interim superintendent Verletta White were paid by ERDI.

“When she went there, she was not on school time, she used her own vacation days, and she spelled it all out in the letter that she sent,” said Abby Beytin of the Baltimore County Teacher’s Association.

Beytin says this week, White sent an email outlining her ties. The company paid $3,000 for attending a conference before taking the top office at BCPS.

She says not declaring the consulting fee was simply an oversight.

“We’re interested in hearing, just like everybody else,” said Jayne Lee, president of the Baltimore County PTA.

Lee says it’s distracting from where the focus should be; on students.

“We’re losing time that we should be spending worrying about their kids and their education, on whether somebody went to a meeting or a dinner or whatever. That’s the board’s job to look into,” Lee said.

Governor Larry Hogan has thrown his support behind an investigation.

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