Yesterday the Fort Worth school board narrowed its search for a new superintendent to one candidate. While the board is playing it close to the vest by not releasing the name of the lucky pick, those close to the process believe it will be Interim Superintendent Walter Dansby, who has held the temp job since former super, Melody Johnson, resigned abruptly in May. 

(Caveat: If one wants to call it “lucky” to be taking over a district with 29 failing schools, a $55 million deficit, a $13 million hiring scandal, multiple whistleblower lawsuits costing hundreds of thousands of dollars in outside legal fees, a failed $4.9 million student accountability system, teacher morale at a low point, the latest controversy still simmering over a principal who was kicked upstairs to an administrative post rather than being fired for admitting that he pinched athlete’s nipples as a” disciplinary” act, and a Child Protective Services investigation into the pinching principal’s behavior. But hey, you can’t call the job not challenging.

Good luck whoever you are.


Dansby is who most interested observers have their bets on as he came to the  interview with four solid board member votes for him and one that is highly probable, said the Rev. Kyev Tatum, whose Black, Brown and Tan Coalition (a group of local church and community leaders organized to improve the education of the students in this district) has backed him from the start and lobbied hard for him to be hired permanently. “All roads lead to Walter,” Tatum wrote in an email to Fort Worth Weekly.  Interim board president Juan Rangel (who as vice-president took over the gavel when former president Ray Dickerson abruptly quit in December) and trustees Ann Sutherland, Carlos Vasquez and TA Sims have made no secret that they favored Dansby even though all four said they were giving the other candidates fair consideration. Trustee Christene Moss is said to be favoring Dansby as well, pressed by her constituents who are predominately black, many living in the Stop Six community where Dansby grew up. 

If he is chosen he will be the first African American to hold the post on a permanent basis.

Dansby, who was born in Fort Worth, grew up in the low-income Stop Six community, and has worked in the district for 37 years as a teacher, coach, assistant principal, principal and deputy superintendent, fits the criteria that the trustees have said matters most in a leader: one who understands the problems of a mostly poor, highly diverse urban district, has ties to the community, is a strong promoter of educational excellence, is a teacher-advocate and one who has spent time in the classroom. 

He also has the support of the United Educators Association, the largest educational employees’ union in North Texas. UEA recently urged the board to hire him based on his ability to bring people together, focus on quality education for all students, his support of teachers and his long educational history with the district. There will be no time lost in a “learning curve” with Dansby, Deputy Executive Director Steven Poole told the board. “We need a strong leader who understands where FWISD has come from, where we are, and where we need to go,” he said, pointing out that the teacher leaders of the group have “chosen Walter Dansby as the person best to lead the district.”

He has detractors, none of whom, however, will go on the record. Critics of his leadership say he is stuck in the past in his understanding of the diverse makeup of the district, especially the gay, lesbian, transexual and bisexual students who are coming “out of the closet” in greater numbers than ever before. Some say he has a tendency to lecture rather than listen and is slow to make tough decisions. They point to his failure to fire Principal Doug Williams of Dunbar High School after the principal admitted that he pinched the nipples of students there and took pictures of athletes without their shirts on, posing them against a black backgrond after school hours, triggering an investigation by CPS.  Dansby removed Williams as principal and placed him in an administrative post in the RISE program designed to help failing schools improve their academic ratings.

Dansby told the Weeklythat he removed Williams from any connections to kids and put him in administration for the balance of his contract, which will end in August. His salary remains the same, a little more than $100,000. “When his contract is up, he’ll have to reapply just as anyone else would,”Dansby said.  Those close to Dansby, such as Tatum, believe Dansby did that to avoid another costly lawsuit.  Currently there are three whistleblower lawsuits in court, with outside legal costs running more than half a million dollars and counting. All three, to be fair to Dansby, originated under the regime of Johnson.

The board is scheduled to name the finalist this coming Tuesday, Jan. 17, at its regularly scheduled board meeting.  Then it has 21 days to do its due diligence on the candidate’s background with a final vote on hiring — if no skeletons show up — in February.


  1. What hooey, what claptrap. Why is there even a question mark after Dansby’s name. He’s had his five votes all along; its been bragged about.
    He may turn out to be the cat’s meow but to ignore the sham, the charade, while spending 65K of taxpayer’s money anointing him is a disservice.
    Do you not realize the irony in this quote, “He has detractors, none of whom, however, will go on the record.”
    This is normally followed by charges of fear and retaliation rampant within the administration. Oh wait, that was the former superintendent…now people don’t speak out because….,because. Oh well, maybe Betty Blinker will get back on stride.

  2. Okay, Fort Worth. It’s time for us to join together in a collective prayer to whomever we send our prayers that interim Superintendent Dansby is the selectee by the trustees. I truly believe Super. Dansby is the very best choice for our kids, parents and the district. Perhaps Reverend Tatum, you could help us out here?

  3. Attention FWISD Teachers:

    Due to a system issue with Connects, the deadline for entering semester grades has been extended to Wednesday, January 18 at 3:00 p.m.

    A revised schedule for the Denial of Credit will be sent to the high schools.

    For your convenience the Customer Service desk will be open this Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Please call 817-814-3080 for support.

    We appreciate your patience and diligence as you work to keep parents informed of their child’s progress.

  4. This will be the most frightening and disheartened selection. Why UEA is supporting him? UEA leadership needs to position a leader who will be easily subdued to continue making business as usual. The rule of thumb, “if the opposition support you is because…”

    Which school under Dansby leadership became exemplary? Which one? Please…People forget very easy or amnesia is a contagious disease in Fort Worth ISD.

    Congratulation to all friends of his circle, especially to the incompetents who will keep their jobs!

    If he gets the job as the SUPER-intend-ENT, let’s continue expecting the same but with more intensity. Teachers, you will continue loving your organization because UEA will continue playing the double standard with your job.

    Parents, your child will continue making progress. By the year 2014, the choices of Charter schools in Fort Worth will be an advantage for your child education. Also, private schools are going to be a great investment. There is hope!

    Some board members are interested in keeping someone who won’t open the grave. There are skeletons in the closet and they still smell so bad. Uffff.

  5. I have so much to say and I know people hate to read long blogs. I am probably writing this more for my catharsis, because I feel I must, in order to make sense of this madness. Read it if you wish, if not, pass on to the next comment.

    I know this is going to start sounding like a broken record; thanks again Betty, for publishing yet again, another article for the public to see a glimpse of the “not so bright” side of FWISD administration! I believe your title should have been “Dansby!!!???” Alas, I get what you meant anyway. This whole “crap of a search for a superintendent” has been nothing but a farce; a way for the powers to disguise their true intentions through bogus processes. Linda B, all due respect; I will have to disagree with you totally! What has changed your mind recently about Dansby or this district for that matter? I sorta kept you “up high” with most of your comments in FWW articles, but this immense support for Dansby, to the point you are asking Tatum for prayers, is a new low! Evidently, the right person or people have convinced you that Johnson was the only corrupted soul at FWISD, and her departure left a pristine cabinet and board. Just because people say unequivocally that 2+2= 4, doesn’t mean those first two digits can’t change shapes to add up to the same thing! In other words; you CAN change the numbers (people) around, but the result (corruption) remains the same! Ask yourself why the board didn’t choose Dansby after Tocco was fired. Why didn’t he finish his certification, so he could be considered for the job at that time? Why now? Do you think that this man’s leadership style has changed all of sudden; enough to immortalize him to the point that he radiates a golden hew? What about his past and present transgressions? It wasn’t all Tocco or Johnson; he knew everything that was going on then, just as he has known up to the day he was appointed interim. And do you really think that all of a sudden this district now needs a super, who has lived in FTW, attended the poor schools he grew up to later teach in? If you believe these are all great reasons to hire Dansby, pray for his appointment, and so forth…well, I have a swampland in Florida I would like to sell you! Here’s the skinny Linda: Dansby was NOT appointed interim or permanent super after Tocco, because the evil board members already had Johnson in mind for the job! Dansby gets pissed he was passed up, so why even bother to finish taking the superintendents certification! The man used a lame excuse he had to attend to some business at one of his schools…bull crap!

    Meanwhile, back at the farm, Vasquez got his panties in a wad for being fired as a principal under Johnson; his motives were to become a board member and vow to bring Johnson down, through some kind of political justice schema! It took him 6 yrs to accomplish this little strategy so he and other high profile people could slip the Dansby agenda back in. Dansby knew the moment he was appointed interim that he would be permanent super. Oh he played the role of coy and humbled servant, especially when they said his salary would go up 50K! He even went as far as saying “I don’t want the raise; it can be used to save a teacher’s job!” What a bunch of BS! Go back and see the video of that board mtg and notice what he finally says when Vasquez insisted he take the raise and wished they could give him more. Dansby is heard saying something like, “I don’t want to have to pay more taxes…!” Oh how nice of you to decline your raise for such valiant and selfless reasons Dansby! And everyone bought that academy award performance, except me! I knew then he had an agenda and by god, it took him and the likes of Vasquez, less than a year to reveal it!

    Do you really think the public is that stupid FWISD? Do you not think we know how this dirty political game is played? You all spent $65 K, not chump change from where I stand, to make it appear you all were looking for a candidate for super, when in reality, just like with Johnson, you all had already chosen him!!! I don’t know what YOU all call it, but I call it a “FIXED AND FALSIFIED CANDIDACY FOR EMPLOYMENT”! Let’s see if this is dug up years from now, when someone is on a witch hunt to fire you Dansby, like it was done on Joe P! This is a false representation and misuse of taxpayer money to satisfy personal agendas; a political move to save corrupted asses; a blatant continuance of a failed and broken educational system; notwithstanding, a hiring process misnomer. And now FWISD, you have the audacity to be gun shy about preventing any more lawsuits, wasting needless dollars, to the point you retained an admitted sexual harasser on the payroll, until his contract is up? I would say I am shocked this type of mockery happens in our own backyard; however, here lately, it is no surprise indeed to see how much power school districts have, such as ours, to stick it to the little people…the taxpayers! It is also not a surprise OUR district claims it cares about the students and employees…but it really doesn’t! I have said countless times that our district performs as if it is immune to local and state law, and even to TEA policies…now I AM POSITIVE it does! And this current falsity is our proof readers, ISD employees and citizens of FTW; THEY not only THINK, but they also know, they are more powerful and mightier than anyone! Well, I for one am tired and beyond “Frustrated” with FWISD administration.

    Our district is going backwards by appointing Dansby as permanent super. Nothing has and will not change for the better. To hell with what you “yes people” have been programed to believe; he is NOT the right person for this district to go forward. Dansby is fooling many; the true persona WILL come out eventually, if it hasn’t already, given his last brainy idea to keep Williams. I know I will soon read another article that says “I told you so, FTW…” It will come and I will not be taken aback, because the writing is already on the wall and has been since Johnson left. I am more ashamed than I was before to tell anyone I work for this district, mainly because we are smarter and wiser than this! Unfortunately, when we are fed a bunch of crap and we cannot do a thing about it, except to shake our heads in dismay; we clam up, because we need our jobs. Yes, no one would give their names to this article to contradict the mightier than thou praises for Dansby, because retaliation is alive and well, regardless of what Dansby preaches. Work place bullying is alive and well, regardless of how much we spend on bogus initiatives. And sexual harassment and overt misuse of power is also alive and well, regardless of this district’s claim to handle each complaint fairly.

    This district does nothing short of burying you and your complaints alive! If we have to continue to complain in honesty through pseudonyms, then so be it! I will ALWAYS have an opinion, especially when the opinions are shared about the valid truth; even if it is anonymous…I am putting it out here, so that others will know and judge for themselves.

    To you “Yea” sayers, brown nosers or whatever you call yourselves…don’t be fooled, because he is coming after you too! Once he has the permanent power…you all will be the next to file for unemployment. He has smooth talked you for several months now, enough to make you believe he is YOUR man, but he is truly not! And the “nay” sayers consensus will be heard throughout the district. Oh yes, he will make some changes alright, maybe even some to gain the confidences of our district employees, but rest assure, like everything else thus far…it will all be smoke and mirrors! And to the good board members who also had a lot of us fooled, even empowered us to believe they were fighting for us…we know you all have been fighting for your own agendas too. At least the despicable evil board members were upfront about malice and unethical practices; whereas, the rest of you “goodies” flew under the radar and made it appear you were on our side, and that includes UEA! It is ALL about personal agendas right Vasquez? Take heed people; this district will see change for sure, but it may, no, it WON’T be a good kind, especially for the employees and students, who will still suffer at the hands of administrative abusive power! Sad but true…I’m actually hoping the Mayan’s are right!

  6. Read every word, Frustrated. Spot on.
    Let the patronage system roll. Watch the remainder of the 150$ million fund evaporate, wait for the inevitable tax increase. And Linda, it’s not Dansby who needs prayer.

  7. Frustrated, you know as many of us that if Dansby is appointed the Maya’s calendar is right, life is going to change soon but for the worse. I wish you could see the commotion of the people in the central administration offices and the hyperventilation of some others who can’t believe this move.

    Well, let’s wait until Tuesday and hope until the last minute if we have another candidate to be nominated. The Federal is going soon to investigate the spending of federal money and those grants given to improve some schools. Johnson and board president are gone but you board members you will stay one more year.

    The academic trend is showing that the FWISD students are not making adequate progress. The only conversation for the last three years was closing the achievement gap of the African American students. This is becoming a reality! White students are moving out of the area, Hispanics are not making the statistic progress they were making four years ago.

    Vasquez and Rangel have a personal agenda that don’t allow them to see what’s going on. Barking is not the solution to show the power. Sims and Moss have been working proactive to place people in key positions to balance the power. I give them credit for that approach. We hoped Sutherland was able to see the danger but it looks like the shifting of power is affecting her common sense.

    We will endure the ridiculous move but we will laugh with the nonsense. Sorry for those who will be left behind, specially the children who don’t know that history is being written on their names. Why do Moss or Sims become the School Board President until the election? We need to see the final power alignment. Well, Rangel is the Vice.

    Let’s wait for the surprise! Frustrated, SURPRISE!

  8. Something was stated in the Star Telegram about it being a majority and they had to move forward. That pretty much said it…..the five knew all along. Did you see that a FWST writer tweeted today that one of the board members said that Dansby was the next Supt. in the board meeting today.

  9. Are we talking about Victoria’s Secret? We know the product but we don’t know how it fit to different women. This is the secret of the board.