Breaking News: Melody Johnson to Resign

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Posted May 19, 2011 by betty.brink in Blotch

Fort Worth Weekly has just learned from Fort Worth school trustee Ann Sutherland that Superintendent Melody Johnson has told her board that she will be resigning effective September 19.   Johnson is in her sixth year as head of the 80,000 student urban district.

No  reason was stated.  But it is known that Johnson has had to be away from the district recently due to an  illness in her family in California. Futher, her tenure has, of late, been roiled with scandal from the illegal activites at Arlington Heights High School to the forced resignation of some of her closest and most highly placed administrators. The district is facing three expensive whistle-blower lawsuits and just settled for an undisclosed sum for two employee racial discrimination lawsuits. And others who were fired have recently won reinstatement when their cases were overturned by the Texas Education Agency.  One of her most highly touted programs, the $6.7 million dollar computer software system from Tyler Technologies has been in deep trouble for more than a year, failing to meet the promises of its manufacturer – and frustrating employees to the point that many have threatened to resign.  With the district facing a $30 million budget shortfall, Johnson was forced to take the most unpopular of actions for a superintendent: fire employees. Plus, in the nearly six years she has been here, the district’s academic rates have fallen from second from the top of the state’s six largest urban districts to second from the bottom. And at least three board members have been vocal in their public criticism of her (mis) management style. All in all, it hasn’t been a good year for the superintendent, still she remains  popular with six members of her board.  But now, it appears, the search begins for a new chief.

Sutherland, who has been one of Johnson’s most vocal critcs, released a statement saying, “ We thank Dr. Johnson for her service to the district; we had our differences on policy but I know she did her very best and we wish her the best in the future.” 

East Side trustee Tobi Jackson, a strong supporter of the superintendent, said that Fort Worth and the district “lost big today.”

No one from administration was available for comment.


20 Comments


  1.  
    Mirage

    Follow the money and you will find a blackhole in the failed implementation of a system that was ordered by Johnson.




  2.  
    Anonymous

    Ding, dong the witch is gone. Yes she did some good things like bring technology up to date but all the technology in the world is not worth it when the students and teachers continue to suffer at the hands of abusive principals. Apparently the technology did not help keep the district in their place of second from the top. You can’t expect technology to take the place of good old fashion teaching and the curriculum frame work may be ok for new teachers but it puts seasoned teachers in a tiny little box with their hands cuffed behind them. Maybe some good change will come to FWISD like putting Sharon Hererra back in her position of helping with honest mediation.




  3.  
    Taxpayer & Teacher

    It’s time for the Board to begin to clean up the mess Johnson is leaving behind. They should start by immediately putting the brakes on any further spending in the witch hunt against Palazzolo. He has always asked to be reinstated. After what the MJ minions have done to he and his family, reinstatement sounds like a heck of a deal.




  4.  
    Stars and Stripes

    I hope that if things that Melody broke start getting fixed, the Board doesn’t forget all of the other whistleblowers. For example, don’t forget Aracely Chavez who was featured in the FW Weekly for coming forward on the payroll debacle. Right after Chavez whistleblew, Melody decided to re-organize her department and the only person who got laid-off— Chavez. Whistleblowers risk their careers to make things better for all of us. Don’t forget them.




  5.  
    FWISDleaks

    Well, we are not surprised her resignation would come soon. We thought she would wait for one more year and face her reality. We hope she is not playing politics by testing the political arena to get the public support from her loyal board members. That would be a setback for the board members who forgot that the schools are made for the children and not for the businesses.

    We would wait for the acceptance of her resignation from the board members. Melody would be idolatrized as part of the grief due to her loss. We all concur that she lost the most precious momentum in her career when she deviated from walking her talking. Her management style did not generate the trust needed to produce her aspiration to turn the FWISD as one of the best urban districts. Her flaw was “this is what I think, this is what I do,” unfortunately, she pushed away so many people who were committed to the transformation but made the mistake of challenging her agenda. That’s why she got so many legal challenges. If you do the right thing, it will be guaranteed that you won’t generate the opposition Melody encountered, even from her most closed collaborators. She bragged the teachers were the best but she wanted to replace them with the “Teach for America” workforce; principals were the best, but they were bad leaders if her initiatives did not work in their schools, and central administrators were the best if they did not opposed her. That was the travesty of her leadership style.

    We have faith that FWISD would become better district if we find a leader who put children first in his/her daily agenda, return the power to schools and do not to keep the power on the central administration that in most of the cases have lost connections with the daily reality of schools, nurture the qualities the workforce have to embrace a change that produce real result.

    Dr. Hinojosa from Dallas ISD blurred her news spotlight by threatening his constituents of leaving the DISD on the same day. We hope Melody is serious about her resignation.




  6.  
    Frustrated

    “Anonymous…swell, thanks for putting THAT little ditty from Oz in my head…for hours to come…LOL! I’m surprised this blog isn’t filled with more comments; I thought for sure all of our assumed named brethren would be clicking away at their computers with witty and savvy commentaries! I personally couldn’t wait to get home and start commenting! What are we going to do when our district becomes…oh, I don’t know, non-corrupt? Blogging in the FWW about FWISD has become my new obsession, right up there with playing Angry Birds! You just hate to kill those cute little pigs (relax, I meant the pigs in the game), but it sure is so much dadgum fun! I want to give major props to Betty Brink for bringing the FWISD calamity to the forefront! And Mr. P, your name will become synonymous with strength…for years and years to come! I feel that without Betty’s intuitiveness and brilliant journalism (because obviously Star Telegram doesn’t have any); who knows if anything, regarding the AHHS/Palazzolo case, would’ve ever been out for the public to see and hear about.

    I just finished watching the coverage of MJ’s resignation on Channel 8. Wow, her news trumped Dr. Hinojosa’s resignation…almost like when severe tornado weather trumps American Idol! I am a little perplexed thought; the reporter talked about a handful of personal emails within the district that finally “took its toll”. Yet, MJ’s touching (not) internal email to us inferred her decision to resign was not reached within a couple of days. She further stated; it had been months of thought…prayers, etc, to reach her decision. Oh reaaaaally MJ? I know you must say and do what you think the public wants to hear, but seriously??? I wonder if I can get away with copying and pasting the memo she wrote today and place it on this blog. What do you think readers? Would you like to read the bogus comments from someone who made the district miserable for 6 years (except the technology bit)? And here’s another question for anyone who might have the insight. Since the board (sans 3 votes) rushed to get her contract extended for 3 years…does this mean we are still going to have to pay her contract out, even if she resigned?

    I know, just let a sleeping dog lay, but too many lives have been changed forever, b/c of her retaliative behaviors. And too many nights have been spent by employees in torment, over the culture of fear she instilled throughout the district! I don’t like for people to lose their job, especially in this economy; however, I am sure the highest paid superintendent in the State or even the nation, must have tucked some $ away for a rainy day like this! MJ, I’m sorry it’s pouring right now, but you made the right decision to move on, so this district can move forward. I hope you will encourage your trusted allies to do the same! I am full of questions tonight and I feel so giddy…like a forty year old virgin going on her first date! So what happens to the investigation on Palazzolo? What about the supposed internal audit? What if it turns out there were indeed mismanagement and/or cover-ups? What? What? What? I am not concerned or “Frustrated” at this point about the reason MJ quit, but more what is going to happen between now and Sept 19th? It’s scary to think she will have 4 months to do god knows what! Employees beware…I smell vengeance blowing downhill! I don’t know how all this works, but perhaps the board will not allow her to make any major decisions during her 4 months…one can only hope!

    Oh gee, i just had an ugly thought! Since MJ is leaving Sept 19th, does this mean we will have to hear another cheesy “MJ pep rally speech” for our annual commencement for the district in August? I wonder what little chazarai will be handed out this year (last year MJ gave her 12 thousand employees a polished stone with the word “Believe”). If I was you MJ and you are planning your farewell speech at this event…I would duck for sure!

    Onward forward…next on the agenda…get Sharon H her job back as the true catalyst for change within our district! We need her now more than ever; if many of us out here have to go public to make our point…so be it! We got your back Ms. Herrera…many, many employees applaud your efforts to make our schools a better place to work and teach our children. I feel the articles from Betty and comments posted with valuable insights, ARE the reasons MJ felt a little “FarKlempt” I for one intend on continuing to hold our district accountable for its practices. In the spirit of Karen Carpenter, “We’ve only just begun…” Especially now more than ever, as the arduous search for a new FWISD superintendent commences! And if we can somehow, between now and the interviewing process begins, have a moral values x-ray machine and BS detector built, that would be nice…thank you!




  7.  
    Frustrated

    Way to go guys with ALL of your comments above! I especially like what Stars and Stripes said about not forgetting the people who were ostracized…much like they have done with Sharon H. Isn’t it interesting, that what they did to Ms. Chavez, in terms of reorganizing and such, is much the same way they did Sharon H? The only difference is Sharon still has her job, but she belongs in the job she truly made a difference in…as a mediator, trainer for cultural diversity, anti-bullying watch-dog, etc. I do feel for all those fallen colleagues, who have sacrificed their careers and spent much of their blood, sweat and tears for a district that failed them miserably. Chin up my friends…perhaps new and much improved leadership will prevail. We are still fighting the fight in your name (s).




  8.  

    tIt is not that Melody is gay,or that her top lieutenant,Mike Soren is gay,but in our deep south with the anti gay attitude,I am surprised that this occurred. Backtrack to the past superintendant,Tocco,and he was released due in part to the monies from That Bond issue where millions were wlost,cotntcrete went to Aledo rather than schools in Fort Worth. tocco never admitted nor was charged. Mel has done the same tthing,steal from the district. I watched some years ago ,Mel and Hinojosa,talk about making their districts the best ever by 2012,and Mels entrance into fwisd was touted as a fix or fixxer ,along with Mike Soren, Her stolen concrete equivalent will probably be the computer systems for inputing grades student by student,that does not function as said by the computer company. Mel also dept many of the good old boys and girls from past administrations,that draw six fugures and do nothing of value.

    fort worth citizens… your child is not safe and is not learning much in most fwisd stchools. Mel ended special education,saying that They have feelings too and that mainstreaming is the answer. So the crack babies from the crack moms are there drooling and rocking amidst the noncrack kids trying to learn. Mel
    also allows the principals and vice principals to be absent or run errands on school time. Problemww with that is that there is no one running the ship. In wedgewood of fort worth retired principals come out of retirement to run schools ,and are only interested in their double salary,not principatlling. Mel will only be exposed when she is gone. the true villains are the school board that had to have known all of this,before ,during ,atnd after. citizens,home school,trinity valley,country day,hockaday….anything but public school. there is a reason that the forces enjoy and uneducated public. an uneducated public does not rally against corruption,an uneducated public is easier to steal from and hoodwink. visit your local school during school hours,it is schocking




  9.  
    Keeping track

    I and most teachers agree. Judy Needham (also a closet Gay) is the ringleader who Dickerson, Jackson and Robbins follow. She cut the deal with “the best superintendent in the country” to take over FWISD on condition she not move out the Tocco regime. All four of these corrupt fools need to resign as well.




  10.  
    Absurd

    It’s always interesting to read comments from people that know so much on how to run large successful and diverse public institutions. Maybe you should all apply to be superintendent or run for board of education.




  11.  
    Keeping track

    To “Absurd”:
    What an appropriate pseudonym. Did you dare say “run” or “…large successful” in reference to FWISD? I suppose continuing to promote a climate of fear; hypocrisy; fiscal freefall with out money; that’s your idea of success? Melody spent way too much time on manical witch hunts aginst those who dared report wrongdoing and hiding in the closet. You are as bad as that momma’s boy who wrote in the Startlegram “The bullies have won. They accomplished through harrassment what the could not do through an open vote of the School Board. They ran off Dr. Johnson by making her life miserable. Dr. Johnson is not perfect, and she made some mistakes. But she will leave the FWISD in much better shape than when she got here. She should be proud of what has been accomplished during her tenure. She has returned the focus to the class room. Gone are the days of kickbacks and cronyism. I hope we are not returning to those bad old days.” Wha! Wha! Wha! Is this guy for real? He has NO IDEA what he is talking about.




  12.  
    Chuckylives

    I stopped reading Startlegram comments because of the expressed bigotry. Readers should care less about melody’s sexual desires and more about the media blitz that surrounds her reign. You gotta laugh at the circus created to fool the taxpayer. Ringling sisters ala needham/mj/kyledavies/whattley/griffith watch the illusions under the guise of bringing a “world class education” to Ft Worth. This circus includes clowns pretending to be board members. Stay tuned!




  13.  
    teacher

    The biggest disappointment to teachers and staff is the lame and political position taken by UEA on the last six years. UEA is a business. They cut deals at our expense with their buddies. I’m leaving that worthless organization.
    I agree that all corruption begins and ends with Judy Needham. Ray Dickerson is a pathetic and unethical lap dog. Needham, Dickerson, Jackson (bought and paid for by Needham) and Robbins (“…hoped to get 10 years..” referring to MJ) need to resign.




  14.  
    Friend of the truth

    Keeping Track Says “I and most teachers agree. Judy Needham (also a closet Gay) is the ringleader who Dickerson, Jackson and Robbins follow.”

    I think you will find if you spent any time actually watching or better yet LISTENING to Jackson. You will find a free thinker who does not care about Johnson the board or any adult in the district. Jackson cares about the kids.

    When the dust settles and the minutes and transcripts are read Jackson will stand opposing any program person or policy that does not work FWISD better for the children.

    Truly a shame everyone else has an agenda for their pet group or family business. Put a few more Jacksons on the board and we might just see the drop out rates fall and integrity rise.

    Thank you Jackson for being about the kids.




  15.  
    teacher too

    Dear “Friend of the Truth”; What Are you smoking? Since Needham allegedly paid her campaign debts, Jackson has had her head so far up Needham’s backside it is hard to tell where one begins and the other ends. Remember Jackson and Needham’s “Laurel and Hardy” impersonation with the pro-drilling letter to the State Leg (written by a lobbyist for Chesapeake no less) also busted by the Weekly. Recently she voted against another Johnson victim – Raul Duran. Palazzolo, Duran, Chesapeake, “sad day for Fort Worth” …this woman is Looney Tunes who will say anything to get elected. and do anything to be popular with the power elite. Kids my foot. Maybe she should try getting to meetings on time.




  16.  
    Keeping track

    In response to “Friend of the Truth” – WHAT? “Put a few more Jacksons on the board and we might just see the drop out rates fall and integrity rise.” I agree with “Teacher Too”.
    A quick review of Jackson’s votes (she seconded the motion to fire Palazzolo. Not sure about Duran) would tell anyone with sense she is NOT about kids – she is about herself.




  17.  
    Frustrated

    To absurd: You really are! Have you been living under a rock lately? Saying “Successful” and district in the same sentence is an oxymoron isn’t it? MJ and her beloved board (except Sutherland, Rangel and Vasquez), are WORTHLESS!!! And shall we mention almost her entire cabinet too! This district has remained the worst district in the State of Texas for a reason…MONEY!!! It is all about the greenbacks my friends!

    Absurd: “Run” is an interesting word, when you reference it our district. I would agree that it takes a special person to “manage” a large diverse organization, such as a school district. However, you are right…because, “run” is exactly what MJ did! It takes real “big ones” to “run” good people off for telling the truth, to run an already dilapidated and morally bankrupt district further into the ground, and to run our hard earned tax dollars into the hands of people MJ hired to cover her corrupted ass!

    As far as running for the board. I wish they would allow a district employee to run! Have you been to a meeting in the past? The last one I attended (and I say last, b/c I couldn’t stand being at the circus and not have peanuts!), was when FWISD lawyers were arguing back and forth with the board about accepting a motion, regarding Dr. Spaniel’s medical leave information. It was like the Comedy Capers! All Dickerson kept doing was holding his hand over the mic to consult with anyone who appeared to be awake! Needham appeared to walk in and out at opportune moments, Moss appeared like a deer caught in the headlights, Jackson appeared asleep, and I appeared sick to my stomach!!! Dickerson also appeared as though he was a lost little boy in a labyrinth! Most of those board members were clueless (except the ones I mentioned earlier); they knew how to do one thing and one thing only…press the little “for” button, when it was time for voting! It reminded me of the trained dancing chicken at the State Fair, when it comes out and does exactly as it has practiced a hundred times before! And once it does its Pavlov routine, it goes back into hiding!

    I work in the trenches within our district 220 days out of the year! I see what this failed administration has done to our teachers, students and employees. I know of the corruption and psychotic behaviors of Tocco and then MJ! The only difference between Tocco and MJ is he has better concrete around his house! The board knew exactly who to look for in a superintendent, when MJ’s credentials were examined…someone who would keep most of the people in Tocco’s regime, only to keep the lies and corruption going strong! FTW, the roots of evil are deeper than you all think! I wonder how the illustrious board feels now. Don’t think for a moment we are going to let you fools (aka minions) choose another superintendent to cover your tracks again!

    Needham’s hand are laden with the blood from the AHHS fiasco…she is at the helm of that costly mess! And MJ used her muscle to convince people to fire Palazzolo…fast forward to thousands of dollars spent to cover the corruption! No more, not now and not ever! We are watching indeed…especially the teachers and employees of this district! We will prevail!




  18.  

    Mel departed when tax scores came in. also she and herhe gay friends stole the millions steered to them from rick perry. these funds were for teacher incentive pay,that no teachers seem to have received. Mel allows vice principals and principals to be absent unabatedly. when this happens ,any problems at the school ,are to be dealt with by who…..? with irate parents,out of control crack babies from crack moms,that is so rampant in the wedgewood area,thanks to former mayor barr for subsidized housing for the mostly blacks disenfranchized




  19.  
    Frustrated

    I still feel like MJ’s resignation is a ploy to divert attention from the real issues here…corruption! I saw the WFAA inerview again and hear what Dr. Vasquez said, in regards to the budget cuts. He alluded to MJ’s need to slash jobs of people who she didn’t like, as a result of the budget cuts! I agree with Dr. V! I wrote in previous blogs I felt she eliminated Sharon H’s job, b/c we all know she probably wasn’t very well liked by MJ and her staff! Sharon enlightened Palazzolo and teachers to speak up! She didn’t do it to hurt the district, but to help people work in a non-hostile environment. Sharon didn’t go in with guns blazing and said “Unconver all of your dirt…” She trained people on cultural diversity, bullying and workplace conflict! The incriminating stuff that was going on at AHHS came out as a result, but was not Sharon’s agenda, nor Palazzolo’s! Unfortunately, there was a lot of crud bubbling over at AHHS that people were in the dark about, and who knows for how long!

    I am looking forward to moving ahead and pray Palazzolo gets his postion back where he was making a difference, with a signed apology and back-pay! I also hope that those people who have lost their jobs or had their jobs eliminated needlessly during the MJ regime, also come back to the district or get their old postions back! I also thnk a 4 month notice is a bit much, especially for a person with a lot of power like MJ. Board, be wise and accept her resignation effective immediately and let the chips fall where they may!




  20.  

    the homosexual equation exists. …..Mel Jonson,Michael
    s0ren,





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