Fort Worth Weekly has reported in previous posts that the outside legal costs to fight Fort Worth ISD whistleblower Joe Palazzolo has reached more than $400,000 and is still climbing as Palazzolo will soon take his case to a state district court.  Under an open records request, we learned today that two other whistleblower cases that were recently settled have cost the district an additional $200,000 in outside fees. That is in addition to the settlements.

In the case of former employee Raul Duran, the district settled his case for $250,000 and did not reinstate him. The outside law firm of Fanning Harper Martinson Brandt and Kutchin was paid $101,593.65 out of the Texas Association of School Boards Risk Management Fund, with the district reimbursing the TASBRM $100,000 of that, according to the district’s legal head, Bertha Whatley.

In the case of whistleblower Aracely Chavez, the risk management fund paid the same law firm $125,051.07. The Fort Worth district reimbursed the fund another $100,000 of that. Chavez’s case was settled for $135,000 and she was rehired under a two-year contract at a salary of $92,000.


Do the math. So far, taxpayers are out almost $1 million and counting just to fight three whistleblowers, one of whom won by getting a nice settlement and reinstatement at a salary larger than she was making when she was fired; the second of whom walked off with a quarter of a million dollars and the third — Palazzolo — has so far won at every stage of his administrative proceedings and still the majority “big fools” on the board say “push on.”

The district in the Chavez and Duran cases says it admitted to “no wrongdoing.” It settled to avoid further “legal fees.” Of course.

One thing is certain, the district is facing a shortfall of $50 million and has laid off dozens of low-pay workers such as library aides, school monitors, and kindergarten aides. For those folks, one million dollars could have saved a lot of jobs.




  1. This is outrageous. Another great story on the absolute incompetency and petty politics of this School Board. Many teachers cannot wait for the revelations that will come from the Palazzolo trial. Judy Needham and friends, your days of corruption and control are numbered.

  2. Don’t worry, the district is expending in those cases a 0.96% of the budget to coverup the mess. The people in power they have this money to their disposal to justify their unethical behavior and “mafia style” lifestyle.

    Taxpayers where are you? Well, the ones who care have their children in private schools or in elite programs in FWISD. Why to bother now?

    Election is coming for some board members.

  3. The only way for the maddness to stop is to bring the AG’s office to investigate. Remember the Wilmer Hutchins ISD scandal? Bertha Whatley was their attorney before it was taken over by the state. I hope Betty and the Weekly will start investigating Whatley’s role in that fiasco to draw the correlation between what is happening at FWISD and board members who have carved out their little fifedoms here. Perhaps Fort Worth will pay more attention during the next school board election. I get phone calls regularly telling me about some offense or insult Judy Needham has made to parents in her district. She didn’t show up during the last election. The Tarrant County Republican’s should be embarrassed by her behavior as their elected official. Yeah, I know school board elections are non-partisan but we know that is lip service. When taxpayers are hurting they will vote for change. In the meantime, the AG needs to step in to stop the hemmoraging of tax dollars and demand due process is followed.