School District News That Didn’t Make the Print Edition (With a Correction)
Dansby’s recycled consultant
Superintendent Walter Dansby raised a few eyebrows this week when he hired an educator with a questionable educational history, Mary Bull, as a consultant. Bull was fired as superintendent in the Vallejo, California, school district in 2009, after her assistant superintendent filed a lawsuit charging her with a “hostile work environment,” according to a series of news reports in the Vallejo Times-Herald. Bull was fired, according to the paper, by the board in August of that year after “less than two years” on the job, with two months of that time spent on administrative leave. The same board that hired her fired her, said a reporter for the paper.
Her tenure was “marked by complaints and lawsuits over what some people described as an abrasive leadership style,” the paper reported. She and her assistant superintendent had also been under investigation for several months, according to the paper, into an “undisclosed matter.” One of the lawsuits, won by the ACLU, was that of a young lesbian student who was harassed publicly by teachers in the district. At the time, the district under Bull, had no policies prohibiting such harassment. The paper also reported that the local teachers’ union’s comments on her were mostly negative with “many saying that nothing had improved under Bull’s watch.”
Yet, with all of that, her résumé is not exactly honest about her reason for leaving Vallejo. She wrote, “In August, 2009, by mutual agreement, the remainder of my contract was purchased by the board due to a protracted philosophical disagreement.” Bull did not respond to email requests for comment.
When that factual misstatement was pointed out to Dansby, there was a long pause. Then he said he was not aware of it. District contracts ask whether of not the applicant has ever been fired from a position. Requests for a copy of Bull’s contract have not been answered.
Dansby hired her, he told Fort Worth Weekly, because she is an expert in staffing. He wants her to be “another set of eyes and ears” over staffing that is handled by the human capital management department headed by Sylvia Reyna, in order to avoid that $13 million mistake that was made last year, he said. Dansby did not lay the blame for that error on any one person. “There were a lot of people involved,” he said.
(In an earlier version of this story, this writer erronously indicated that Dansby had blamed Reyna. I apologize for misstating his position.)
However, according to trustee Ann Sutherland’s web page, Reyna, whom she called a “czar,” authorized “not reducing the secondary staffing by 100 positions” required by the board and then she hired 100 more teachers for which there were no positions. “Total 200 positions, $13 million,” Sutherland wrote. It was no small number for a district facing a possible $50 million shortfall.
Two years ago, Bull, ironically enough, was hired after she was fired in California by then superintendent Melody Johnson, as assistant superintendent in human capital management, the very department she will be watching. When a board member raised questions about her shaky history, Bull left. Now she is back, “but only temporarily,” according to Dansby.
Dansby insisted that Bull is going to be working only “two or three days a week, once or twice a month, as we work on the budget.”
Remember the “nipple-pinching” principal?
Doug Williams, Dunbar HS principal, was accused last year by half a dozen or more athletes and two teachers there of pinching young males on the nipples, allegedly as a disciplinary measure. Under a freedom of information request, Fort Worth Weekly has finally received Williams “statement on the matter” that he gave to the district’s office of professional standards last October.
Williams readily admitted that he has been pinching students for almost a decade, stating that there has “never been an issue” because his students “know I love them and want only the best for them.”
He wrote: “I admit to pinching students, off and on, now for the past eight years. …I have pinched on the back of the arms, side and the meaty part of the chest. Never have I touched a student in the area close to the ‘nipple.’” He added that he pinched students to “get their attention and move them on to the next class.” He also said, “On occasions I have pinched students in the chest area when pants were sagging below the butt.” (Emphasis added.)
He closed by vowing to “stop pinching students.”
Even if, as Williams claimed, he could pinch students on the “meaty part of the chest” or the “chest area” without touching nipples, the students who filed complaints against him, swore that he pinched their nipples.
Regardless, touching students to discipline them is against district policy. Touching students in “sensitive areas” of their bodies is one criteria used by the district to determine improper sexual contact with a child.
After this paper reported the incidents, including the fact that Williams also took pictures of male students without their shirts on, posing them against a black backdrop cloth in various poses with basketballs and footballs, Superintendent Walter Dansby removed him from the principal’s post and kicked him upstairs to a job in administration.
Dansby has said that Williams will remain an employee until his contract runs out this August. “After that, he’ll have to apply for a job just like anyone else.”