It’s not a big win, but it’s a win nonetheless and Joe Palazzolo needs a few these days. The former assistant principal and whistleblower at Arlington Heights High School here whose firing by Superintendent Melody Johnson was upheld recently by a Texas Education Agency hearing examiner, filed for unemployment benefits last month and his request has been approved by the Texas Workforce Commission. The district argued vigorously against benefits, submitting claims that Palazzolo was fired for violating school district policies including providing false information on his employment application, being a bully and creating a hostile work environment. Apparently the commission didn’t buy its arguments. “I was called this morning and told by the person who was handling my case that the commission ruled in my favor based on the fact that the documents provided to them by the district to support its claims were ‘hearsay, she-said-he-said’  evidence and didn’t rise to the level of firing offenses.”  

“The decision speaks for itself,” said his attorney Jason Smith.

It is especially welcome, Palazzolo said, because it is a decision by a completely neutral agency, one that could look at the evidence presented against him without district politics getting in the way.


The next step along that route will be in Austin where his appeal of the hearing examiner’s decision to uphold his firing will be heard by the Commissioner of Education who has decided to hold a hearing on the case in Austin, a decision that board trustee Ann Sutherland, who voted against firing Palazzolo, thinks is highly significant. “The commissioner usually just rubberstamps hearing examiner decisions,” she said. The commissioner’s decision is final as far as administrative appeals go and then the door will be open for the district court whistleblower case to be heard.  A scheduling conference for that case will be held Monday, Smith said.  

Requests for comments from the district were not answered.




  1. This is NOT an “April fool” report. I would like to see the district defendants in a civil court, trying to portrait Palazzolo as a bully. Whistleblower cases in civil courts with jurors are interesting. When you put this case in a timeline and see the sequence of events, the case it resolves by itself.

    Now that we are talking about exigency and firing teachers, a couple of millions will be out of the district reserved funds are going to end up in court and settlements.

    All administrators who were involved in this case should be fired, and the board members who agreed to fire him should vacant their board seats. Their votes helped Palazzolo to make his case stronger as a whistleblower. If the boards would keep him employed, his case as a whistleblower would be stopped right there.

    Be patient, the insanity will be over in two more years. Board elections, retirements and superintendent contract will expire. Real savings and success will comeback to FWISD.

  2. Maria, you’re brilliant. As taxpayers we need to storm the gates at 100 University. The dirty secret that no one will say out loud is Fort Worth powerbrokers and the TCU Mafia does not want a person of color as superintendent of schools. This is why they look the other way when nothing Melody Johnson promised when she was hired has come to fruition. The computer porgrams have been failures, student test scores are among the lowest in the state, and federal fraud of public dollars have been stolen for years under her administration. She’s a closeted person earning beaucoup bucks from our federal tax dollars plus getting paid under the table from the TCU mafia. When will the citizens from the Northside and Eastside rise up to fight back? Anyone interested in figting this administration needs to organize against the folly of FWISD.

  3. This is good news for Mr. P. and for people who care about common senses and fundamental fairness. Maria is right on about the waste of OUR hard earned tax dollars that’s being abused by the FWISD to pursue its incompetence and CYA operations.

    Money that’s supposed to improve the quality of education for our children and grandchildren, whether it be better teachers and personnel or supplies and programs.

    Melody Johnson and her cronies should use their own money to underwrite their own foolish pursuits.

    Thanks Betty Brink and FW Weekly for providing the update on this outrageous scandal, which has striking similarities to the current scandal involving MHMR of Tarrant County, its Trustees, and the County Commissioners. The abuses (and neglect to act) against that little nonprofit Paradise Center by these public officials will also end up hurting our children and neighbors living with serious mental illness. And costing hundreds of thousands of hard earned tax dollars.

    The FW Way in action again…Rainbow Lounge, AHHS, Paradise Center, then __?