The Fort Worth school district through its attorney, Walsh Anderson, recently filed a petition in the 348th District Court appealing the Commissioner of Education’s order to the board to reinstate former administrator and fired whistleblower Joe Palazzolo to his job as assistant principal at Arlington Heights High School with back pay and benefits. The petition is filed against Palazzolo and education commissioner Robert Scott.  No date has been set for trial.

However, the brief the WA lawyers, Sandra Tarski and Robb Decker, filed to support the district’s position that the commissioner erred when he overturned the decision by Texas Education Agency  hearing examiner Rick Rickman, who found for the district and upheld Palazzolo’s firing, has at least one remarkable error of fact.

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In Rickman’s original decision he turns a Caucasian girl into an African American to prove his and the district’s contention that Palazzolo “implemented disparate disciplinary consequences for some minority students.”  That so-called disparate treatment was used as one of the reasons for his firing by former superintendent Melody Johnson and her administrator Sylvia Reyna. Rickman backed the firing one hundred percent, using the treatment of S.S., whom he calls an “African American” to prove the case against Palazzolo. Trouble with that, of course, S.S. is white.

When the error was pointed out to Rickman by this reporter shortly after his decision was released in February, he issued a “corrected” decision that left out the so-called “proof” of disparate treatment since his example was, well, flawed.

However, in their brief to the court, Tarski and Decker, leaving out the details, state that the corrected version was done “for the purpose of correcting a typographical error.”

Some typo. The following are excerpts of what Rickman wrote about the girl in his original decision, based he said, on the sworn testimony of teachers and other witnesses, including the principal. His report on Palazzolo’s alleged “discrimination” against a black student covered three-quarters of a page.

The hearing examiner wrote of an instance of “disrespect, bullying, and unprofessional conduct” by Palazzolo that was “reflected in a January 14, 2010 email” about a “situation that involved student S.S., an African-American.” According to Rickman, S.S., a transfer student, was pulled out of class by Palazzolo and told she was going to fail her freshman year and that she was going to be sent back to her home school. Rickman also wrote of insulting accusations allegedly made by Palazzolo against the girl about her social life, leading, he wrote, “Principal Neta Alexander to conclude that Palazzolo did not work well with African-Americans and was constantly in conflict with them.”


 “It is possible,” Rickman said at the time, “that a mistake could have been made.”


The mistake now, says trustee Ann Sutherland, who voted against Palazzolo’s firing, is putting any more money into fighting this case. To date, it is estimated to have cost the district around $300,000.  And that doesn’t include the $26,000 the district paid to Rickman for his fee, which was $18,000 over the amount allowed by state law. That overpayment was the basis for the commissioner’s ruling in Palazzolo’s favour, stating that the large overpayment was not only illegal, but it had tainted Rickman’s decision by raising the idea of bribery, even if untrue.




  1. Great job again Betty! Please do an update on his alleged reinstatement. Last I heard, he had still not been reinstated after TWO orders from the Commissioner.

  2. We hope the School Board find a superintendent who can clean the house. We respect Mr. Dansby but he won’t be able to put order in the house. We the students’ funds (paid by taxpayers) the (same) people in power will continue throwing money to justify their flaw case. These lawyers will test Palazzolo lawyers’ endurance using the children funds. We call this a crime.

    Everyone needs to understand that Palazzolo vs. FWISD case will set a precedent in money wasted and how public officials cover their mess with our money. Dansby does not have the power to remove the high paid employees who have put this district on the list of corrupted public institutions. We will continue going down the hill with so insanity. Dansby has not made any changes as we expected, he has committed to continue with the same things that did not work, and the same people who capacity has been proven using the State and Federal results.

    Did Dansby sit to review this case? If he did, then the people involved in this case are temporally untouchable. If you keep the same people doing the same things, expect the same results as defined by the INL (Insanity Nature of Law.)

    Why does the Board keep the same lawyers? Why do they settle the case? In a Civil court, this case will be the O. J. Simpson of education (with a little twist) the accusers are the perpetrators.

    WHEN IS THE BOARD ELECTION??????????????????

    Melody Johnson will run for the Board. She is our neighbor.

  3. While I agree with much that FWISDleaks has said, I continue to hold out hope that Dansby will do the right thing. The Feds are not far away if the D.A. continues to refuse to investigate Dickerson, Needham, Robbins and the MJ establishment. Hopefully Melody, Reyna, Alexander, Perry, Cormier and others will be indicted before the upcoming election. If you read about the Atlanta scandal, there are far too many similarities. As a teacher who lived through this horror, I cannot believe more minority parents have not risen up demanding resignations. Judy Needham not only covered up the illegal conduct, but actively interfered with the investigations. Dickerson and Robbins (both bigots and racists) are no better. WITNESSES WERE TAMPERED WITH AND THREATENED!!!

  4. I have to say, things look grim for this district…still! I am also holding out for Dansby to do the right thing; however, he is not moving fast enough! I know he wants to become the permanent superintendent, so he may not be in the position to make tsunami waves just yet. Unfortunately, something catastrophic is going to make landfall soon, and it’s not a hurricane! I pray for our district every day that our leaders, the few good ones left, will wake up and realize our district cannot function much longer under this type of collective deception. Something has to give and it has to give yesterday! Time is running out for those, like Dansby, to do the right thing and clean OUR house! A well-known city Councilman posted a comment on his FB page tonight “Watching the FWISD board meeting; I am so proud of the city council’s decorum and respect…so sad for our kids!” Where is our new mayor? Why hasn’t this fiasco hit national news like Atlanta? So many similarities and so much more convoluted, than 3 yrs in the making like Atlanta. FWISD roots of corruption are so unfathomable…it makes me extremely angry major news stations, locally as well as nationally, and government officials in our own backyards, are turning the other way! What is it going to take to end this 3 ring circus? How many more lives have to be affected, before someone cries “uncle”?

    Palazzolo is a brave man; I truly don’t care about the negative things people have said about him thus far…all embellished lies…big ones! I met Joe for the first time the other night. For a year now, I have been defending a man I didn’t know from Adam, just what I read in the articles from Betty! I am usually a pretty good judge about first impressions; I have to say, you haters out there who have ruined his and his family’s life with your continual disdain, well, you all have a special reservation waiting for you in hell! I felt an incredible ease meeting Joe and his family. And get this, you know how the saying goes “You can tell a lot about the parent’s, when you get to know their kids?” Well, I have never met a more grounded, sincere, and pure hearted 16 yr old in my life!!! She comes from good stock…I felt this personally, no one had to tell me; the Palazzolo’s are good people…period! I cannot fathom going through what they have endured all this time! I don’t have enough words to describe how it makes my heart hurt! Go on FWISD, keep making your asinine legal claims; I tell you this, you WILL NEVER break the Palazzolo’s spirit, as well as those who will continue to fight for him and others wronged, until justice prevails…AND IT WILL!!!! And finally, to the moronic legal dept. at FWISD, and in respect to this FWW article; stop insulting the public’s intelligence…please! A “Typo” is a literal misprint…like,”tyopgraphical error”. But African American and White are not even close!!!!! I hope when you all get “fried”, oops typo, I mean “fired”, you will be able to tell the difference!