The long, complicated saga of former Fort Worth assistant principal Joe Palazzolo took another turn this week when a Wise County judge ruled against the school district’s attempt to quickly end his whistleblower lawsuit.

The ruling doesn’t mean Palazzolo has won the lawsuit, but it does mean that the judge will allow the case to move forward to a hearing — a crucial threshold that many lawsuits don’t pass.

The Fort Worth school board has waged a legal battle with Palazzolo (who has another pending lawsuit) for two years. In that time, the former principal has been demoted, transferred, suspended, fired, and reinstated at various times.


It all started in 2010, when Palazzolo reported a number of illegalities by a handful of the school’s officers, including intentional falsification of student attendance records and discrimination against minority students in disciplinary procedures. The school district wasn’t happy with his report, and firing him for that behavior was only the beginning.

Weekly reporter Betty Brink followed the story from the beginning. Here’s how she summed up the last two years:

To date, his case has been heard by the state education commissioner, the Texas Workforce Commission, and a state district court judge, all of whom ruled in his favor. Still, he has spent most of that period with no job and an on-again, off-again income, while a team of highly paid outside lawyers representing the district has raked in about $400,000, despite losing at almost every turn.

To read the full background on the on-going feud, check out Betty’s story here. Both of Palazzolo’s lawsuits are now set for trial in the spring.

Palazzolo’s attorney, Jason Smith, released a press release Wednesday afternoon on the judge’s ruling:

DECATUR, TEXAS-Judge John Fostel overruled FWISD’s motion to dismiss former Arlington Heights Assistant Principal Joe Palazzolo’s whistleblower lawsuit against the FWISD. “We are extremely pleased with the Judge’s ruling, and look forward to exposing FWISD’s retaliatory scheme against Mr. Palazzolo to a jury next spring,” said Jason C.N. Smith, attorney for Palazzolo.

Palazzolo said, “All I tried to do was to protect students and the education process at Arlington Heights. We have given the school district every opportunity to do the right thing and they refuse. So I’m grateful that the Judge’s ruling will allow me to tell my story to a jury.”


  1. Though the AHHS/MJ scandal began with Judy Needham, the continuing waste of taxpayer dollars; firing this man in defiance of the Commissioner’s order; rests solely on the shoulders of Ann Sutherland and Carlos Vasquez.

  2. Elections are on the horizon next year for a good amount of seats. It is time citizens use their vote to make change. 2015 will be the next time that others will be up for re-election. Let’s get new blood on the board to be a voice for the citizens they are supposed to represent.
    We keep getting the same thing over and over while children suffer and the people on top keep getting their paycheck. This case should of been settled once and for all. Where is the leadership and integrity?

  3. I was originally going to comment on this when this article originally came out. However, my heart felt uneasy and heavy for some odd reason and I didn’t know why! Perhaps it was that Betty Brink’s impending passing was looming in my heart and I felt a sense of overwhelming sadness. Or maybe the reason is that my spirit has been broken on so many levels for the last 3 years that I have nothing to give anymore, unlike Betty, who was fighting for justice until she couldn’t anymore. To think Betty gave up the last 3 years of her life to surface the appalling ills of FWISD and did what she could to report the injustices toward Joe, Herrera, Chavez, etc. Nonetheless, what she did was not in vain, because truth will prevail and it will prevail in bold print! All of Betty’s work will not go unnoticed, because she exposed so much wrong within FWISD and its board! It was Betty, who asked the district to “dance”, but they refused. Instead, they eluded her, feared her and criticized her, all the while waiting with bated breath for the next expose’! Betty knew (and still does) that FWISD, namely Johnson, Reyna, Sutherland, Vasquez, Needham, Whatley, Dawson and so many others, ALL LIED to keep an honest man like Joe Palazzolo out of a job! Yes, HONEST, because he exposed the truth and was chastised for it; he was burned at the stake for their personal agendas. Vasquez was right about one thing and one thing only in his last comment on Betty’s “rest in peace” article; some change did occur, but not enough to give Joe and others their jobs back. The only positive change I see is Dickerson stepped down, Johnson is selling her BS at TCU, the ISD legal department is sans two idiots and Reyna is gracing another district with her malevolence. Aside from this, this district has a lot more change to create, like reversing Palazzolo’s case and end the incredulous spending of taxpayer’s dollars. Admit you are wrong FWISD, once and for all, do the right thing and end this personal vendetta against Joe and let’s get back to the real issue, our kids! Betty pushed and pushed with the cold hard facts and you ignored her. Joe and his legal counsel have weathered every legal storm you have produced and still, you keep fighting a losing battle!? When it all comes out, and it will in the spring, you will be the losers, and Joe and Betty’s memory, will be the winners! I lament the loss of a wonderful woman today, but I am thankful that I knew her and believed in her, as much as I believe in Joe. I know things will start to change, but not for the betterment of all those, who continue to hide behind their lies and pejorative accusations toward Palazzolo. You will be defeated FWISD, you can bet on that, but don’t say that Betty didn’t try to warn you in her countless articles and the numerous wins by Joe’s camp. You will fall and Joe will prevail, as it should’ve been a couple of years ago!