“I’ve never heard anyone on this board say a negative word – ever — about Walter Dansby,” said Fort Worth schools trustee Carlos Vasquez, “But now that some of us want to hire him to fill the spot left vacant by the resignation of Dr. Johnson, there’s this big uproar. … I can tell you that the only thing that comes to my mind is that it’s because he’s African American.”

            Tomorrow night beginning at 5:30 at a special called meeting in the district’s board room, Dansby’s hiring will be aired — but the meeting almost didn’t happen.  Dansby’s supporters on the board, Vasquez, Ann Sutherland, T.A. Sims and Juan Rangel, had to threaten a lawsuit to get the meeting held, even though board policy requires that if as many as four members request a called meeting, the board president is bound by law to honor the request.

After Superintendent Melody Johnson’s surprise announcement last week that she would step down on September 19 after six years, Sutherland requested that a discussion on hiring an interim superintendent be added to Tuesday night’s board meeting agenda, but never got an answer back from president Ray Dickerson, she said.


            Vasquez then stepped up to the plate and emailed Dickerson with a request for a special called meeting for Friday adding the names of the other Dansby supporters as fellow requestors. His request was initially ignored as well.  Public meetings, by law, must file meeting dates and agendas 72 hours ahead of time.  A Friday meeting had to be posted by Tuesday at 5:30.  When he got no response by noon Tuesday, Vasquez said he called the board  secretary who told him, “We were instructed not to post this.”

            Vasquez then got Johnson o n the phone, telling her, “This is board policy, you really don’t want to go there.”  Vasquez again emailed Dickerson, stating that he did not have the authority to deny board members requests to call a meeting. “I am going to get a lawyer,” he told the board president.  He said he asked Dickerson why he was refusing to honor board members requests. Dickerson answered that it was “too early” to start looking for Johnson’s replacement. However, Vasquez said, that’s not Dickerson decision to make unilaterally.  “I told him, he was playing games with us.”  Just before the deadline, the meeting time and agenda was posted, he said. “But I shouldn’t have had to threaten a lawsuit to get it done.”

            With a district population that is now about 85 percent minority, it is time, these board members say, for the district to hire a minority superintendent. Dansby has been with the district for 37 years, knows it “like the palm of his hand,” another supporter and head of the United Educators Association Larry Shaw, said. Vasquez called Dansby a “unifying force.” He was a teacher, a coach, a principal, and has been an administrator for close to a decade. For the past year he has had oversight of the $500 million bond program, overseeing a construction effort that has come in on time and under budget.  For the most part, Dansby who was brought into the administration by Superintendent Thomas Tocco from his position as principal at O. D. Wyatt High School, has flown under the radar, with neither Tocco’s nor Johnson’s  brushes with scandal and accusations of mismanagement rubbing off on him.

He has his dissenters. Some teachers say he is hard to work with and too demanding. Others say he’s been in place too long not to be part of the “good old boy” system that protects the status quo at the expense of the students. Still, when he was promoted upstairs from Wyatt, there was a huge outcry from teachers there and parents, who begged Tocco to leave him in place because of his successes at that school.

And now, with so much dissension that has swirled around Johnson, Vasquez and the others argue that it is prudent to bring in someone who is known to be able to “bring people together” and who has historical knowledge of the district — especially the problems that continue to plague so many of its minority students such as high dropout rates and, while improving, still lower than acceptable TAKS scores.  One teacher who worked with him and liked him said, “It usually takes an outside superintendent about a year to get to know the district and start making things happen.  With Walter, he will step in without missing a beat.”

These issues will be discussed tomorrow night — if there’s a quorum. Vasquez said the only other glitch in this effort will be if Dickerson and other board members who now oppose Dansby, simply don’t show up. If that happens, Vasquez said, “It will show me that these people don’t want an African American superintendent.”

The board room is just behind the school district’s administration building at 100 N. University.




  1. Where is the outrage? Dickerson should be up on charges before the Attorney General. His is a liar and a crook!

  2. They are scared that someone may actually bring the district to the level where it should be. All have flaws but we need someone to start the new school year and not have to listen to Johnson then she leaves.

    We need a new vision!

    Voters if the rest of the board members don’t come, then we need new faces on the board.

  3. The squabbing between Board members reminds me of the book “Everything I learned about life I learned in KINDERGARTEN! Mr. Dickerson’s attitude is shameful and embarrassing for a community of this size. With so much dissent on the Board, it is his responsibility to bring everyone together for consensus on a new Superintendent and rapproachment, i.e. healing. Johnson was a polarizing force within the ranks and the Board. She denied certain board members information while making it available to others. The Joe Palazzolo case is a prime example of Johnson’s vindicitive attitude. I saw up close and personally how she made decisions and gave directives to minyions to sabbotage board members accesss to facts in the decision making process concerning Mr. Palazzolo and AHHS failures.. The AHHS situation could have been resolved had Johnson taken approrpriate action vs. the witchhunt she set out to manufacture. It is no accident that Offfice of Civil Rights and Dept. of Education investigated .FWISD The Feds just don’t “come to town” on a whim of a few people. Johnson became emeshed in personal politics with Alexander and Needham to maintain a status quo at AHHS. If you (adults)) think our kids don’t recognize when some students are given preferential treatment while others are punished, this community better wake up. These are the kids who will be taking care of us in our old age. It is time for this community at least step up to the 20th Century accepting this is a minority/majority school district. Walter Dansby is a logical choice for the interim position as Superintendent based on his historical wealth of knowledge of the failed school district. I just hope he will be given the authority to dismiss the malfactors within the administration left over from TOCCO and JOHNSON. This action alone will serve to bolster confidence among the ranks of teachers throughout the district. This will allow everything else to fall into place. I sincerely hope leaders in the minority community will also come together to usher in Mr. Dansby. Johnson and Tocco did not want inputs from this community in the decision making process. We as a community must recognize the importance of having an African American as the leader in the school district. If not now ….WHEN?

  4. I completely agree with the others. Dansby should be approved as Interim Superintendent. He MUST put an end to the countless witch hunts and employee lawsuits. Like other school districts across the State, FIRE Walsh Anderson for their ridiculous and self-serving advise. Begin to restore employee confidence by getting rid of Reyna, Sorum and the other MJ minions. Millions WASTED on re-writing curriculum, Lead Content Teachers (LCT’s) ! It is over. Pay her until September but get her OUT of the building. Someone then needs to take a new look at what is happening with re-districting. THAT IS THE REAL REASON JOHNSON WAS NOT LEAVING UNTIL SEPTEMBER. That is why Dickerson, Needham, Jackson and Robbins are fighting this. Might want to note that the vote is almost along racial lines. Almost because Sutherland is a person of integrity and Moss is still a corrupt fool – a token – who well sell out her own because Dansby would not hire her friends.

  5. Mr. Dansby could be the guy in charge of the transition. He needs to make sure he wipeout the MJ crew. He has to restore the damaged made to some employees and rebuild trust. He has the best window of opportunity because schools accountability is going to be frozen for two years. He has a chance to focus in academic improvement. Now is the time for fairness versus nepotism, unity vs. elite, student focus vs. adult focus.

    If Mr. Dansby represent the children, he would have a chance of being appointed as the Super. Does he has the support of the whites? Is he going to be fair? Would he stop the corruption?

    THANKS GOD the nepotism is almost over. We are willing to support him if he restore professionalism and put the children first. We are tired of the status quo and the system driven on fear factor.

  6. Does no one remember that when money was being stolen from the students of Ft. Worth on the last bond that Dansby was right in the middle of it. He has had nothing to do with curriculum in years and hasn’t cared pursued the certification needed to be a superintendent. I agree that Ft. Worth should have a minority in the top job but with Hispanics the largest minority why is anyone suggesting we hire a Hispanic superintendent? I support Ann Sutherland but she needs to do some backround research on Dansby herself instead of relying on what Dr. Vasquez has told her.

  7. Thank you but my homework is just fine. He was right in the middle of it and could not possibly have not known what was going on. Fortunately for him and a number of others the investigation into the misappropriations was sidetracked by the tragedy of 9-11. Remember also that he showed, I believe, poor judgement in writing a glowing recommendation for Tocco when Tocco applied for another superintendents job. Dansby has chosen to specialize in the maintence aspect of this district and his supervisors have judged that he is doing a good job. Let him continue to do that job where he is.

  8. All this hoopla is reminiscent of the presidential election. Obama inherited a mess and when Mr. Dansby becomes interim he will inherit a broken system with business operations in a disarray. Not to mention a widen achievement gap amongst minority children. Fort Worth is ready for Mr. Dansby , just like as a nation we were ready for Obama. If Board members fail to attend, let it be known that they stand in the way of changing the good old boy system! Let Freedom Ring And support Mr. Dansby!

  9. How can they, the Board members, stand in the way of changing the good old boy system when Dansby is a part of it. Ok I’ll concede that he could make an interim superintendent but if you want to break up that good old boy system, it is important that a national search be made to find the best candidate. If the board wants to focus on a minority for the job, that’s good but it needs to focus on Hispanic as well as African Am.

  10. In response to “I can’t believe this”:
    So who are your REALLY? Dickerson, Needham, Robbins or Jackson? If you really card about corruption, Judy Needham and Ray Dickerson would not bee sitting on this Board. Needham should have gone to prison with Ingram. She is the one who hired “the best superintendent in the country”. Remember? Robbins is simply a simpleton. A mindless BOOB who thinks he is on the Board to represent Judy Needham. And Jackson? She will NEVER win re-election after her repeated sell-out votes. None of these four could EVER stand the scrutiny of their personal lives that they have put select employees through. The problem is, their transgressions were in education and not some 26 years ago. If MJ is allowed to remain, FWISD taxpayers will loose another $500,000 in the Palazzolo case, thousands more with Chavez, Duran and there are at least four others pending. The days of the established Rhino elite are over.

  11. Dear Clarity, pardone the pun but perhaps you should add a litlle clarity to what you are asking. I’m none of the above and I don’t disagree with what I think you said. However I am not quite sure how what you said has to do with my previous piece.

  12. Let me make it clear for you. You obviously have a deficit integrity disorder. With MJ almost out of the way and her henchmen not far behind, the biggest crooks remain the BOARD members led by Dickerson and Needham, who did not even bother to show up tonight. That includes (just so you understand) Norm “Boob’ Robbins and Toby “I’ll say anything to get elected, but do anything Judy Needham wants” Jackson.

  13. Ditto Clarity. I can’t believe this is probably Barbara Griffin. Now the Minions will try to destroy Dansby as they tried to destroy Palazzolo. Note: TRIED. They will fail but not before we spend another 1.7 million in legal fees. Wasn’t tonight enough of a reason for Board to call for a vote of “no confidence” in the Board President? He didn’t even show up for his own meeting. Oh well, look on the bright side: Jackson was late AGAIN!

  14. To “I can’t believe it and others of its ilk:
    Read the story in the Startlegram Blog. Norm Robbins is the biggest idiot in politics. What a quote. A complete liar and jerk.

  15. One thing is certain: as long as Hispanics and Blacks remain divided – they remain conquered. We were not united tonight. We let a corrupt old woman whose husband is just re-elected, stand with the master and turn back the clock 160 years. Sickening. The Startlegram is a tool of the white elite. Even LULAC is divided and disorganized because of that fool Ruffino Mendoza. To even think Dansby might not be any better than MJ only serves MJ. Better make a decision people. More of tonight or a chance for real change. Put your pettiness aside. Time to clean house! This is your moment.

  16. How the hell did Mendoza get in the district he was let go in the city! For sexual harrassment complaints. I looked him up and guess what he runs Employee Relations! Wthe heck! Black and Brown unite against oppression. What’s up with that my brothers? First we have to clean house with our own like Moss. Mendoza and Moss both carry
    Melodies channel purse.

  17. All of you are crazy and full of hate. This is why we will never be an exemplary district. No one knows how to work together – not on the board, not in the Ad building, and obviously not in the community.
    Do you guys want someone that is a token or someone that have vision and work with the schools to help our children succeed? This is a great opportunity for us to get going and work together but instead we are falling apart.
    I vote for an Asian. There! The Asian kids do better than all the others and I think we need a little “Chinese Mom” action in this district! Maybe the woman that did so much for DC that was profiled in “Waiting for Superman”.

  18. Second thought, who cares? Good teachers never listen to those guys they just do what is right for their students. Fight and bicker all you want. Whoever you put in will be out in a year, five years, no more than 6 years because some special interest group will get their panties in a wad and go after the poor schmuck. I’m not a Melody Johnson fan at all but she was no different from anyone else. It didn’t bother me in the classroom I just worked for my students’ success and guess what I have all ethnic groups! And my student behaive much better than the board or you guys combined!

  19. So now you are a teacher huh? Sure. If so, you are an uninformed idiot. MJ’s entire tenure has been spent lying about EVERYTHING and destroying the lives of those who refused to cover the problems up. Dickerson is an unethical hack who takes direction from Needham. Wise up and get your facts straight.