At its meeting on Tuesday Night, the Fort Worth School Board of Trustees elected Judy Needham as its president, replacing T.A. Simms. Needham was first elected to the board in1996, and is its third longest-tenured member.

She is also known for her penchant for using abusive  language in emails. In one such email, she called fellow trustee Ann Sutherland an “anarchist” and “a crazy old fool of a woman,” after Sutherland filed a protest with the Texas Railroad Commission in order to stop Chesapeake Energy from taking advantage of a loophole in the law that would have allowed it to drill for natural gas within a few hundred feet of an elementary school.

Needham also called Fort Worth Weekly reporter Betty Brink an “evil woman,” when Brink penned a story about mistreatment of minority students at Arlington Heights.  Then-Superintendent Melody Johnson said that was “inappropriate.”


She is not without her critics. Her name figures prominently in a lawsuit filed against the District by former Arlington Heights vice principal turned whistleblower Joe Palazzolo. The suit accuses Needham of protecting her “cronies,” who gave white students preferential treatment.

“Many of the white students who were not disciplined, while minority students were disciplined for the same type of misconduct, were from families with personal ties to Judy Needham,” the suit alleges.

Needham’s critics have also accused her of orchestrating Simm’s rise to his position, displacing then-interim President Juan Rangel. Carlos Vazquez, who was elected first Vice President, publicly accused Tobi Jackson of being Needham’s puppet, after she surprised the board by reneging on an arrangement that would have allowed Rangel to keep his position as president.

Linda LaBeau, who opposed Needham in the 2010 school board election, told the Weekly that she was not the best candidate for board president because of her questionable ethics.

“She’s certainly got longevity on the board,” she said. “But holy cow, her ethics stink.”

She believes that Needham’s ascension to leadership was based on cronyism, not merit.

“She’s just a fixture,” she said. “It’s time to get rid of the fixtures on that board. They’ve been running this school board into the ground. If the taxpayers would look at the financials of the district, they would be aghast.

“I don’t respect her,” she said.


  1. Holy MO to the G! Judy, Judy, Judy! How long again exactly did it take you to get this position??? Is anyone wondering why now after you’ve been sitting on the board since 1996? I’ll tell you why! You wanted this gig since Johnson was in and she ruined your plan huh? You were so anxious to get Dickerson off and then he leaves, but so did Johnson and there went your big plan to sit as President. Then dear old Dansby comes and you made shady deals with him and others to get him as super! I believe they call it “tit for tat” or in your case, “selling your soul to the Devil”! You all, for the exception of Martinez (because he is new) have maliciously played around with taxpayer money far too long! This also includes our wonderful new super, who I am sure sold his soul to you to get his position, like many others on that forsaken board! You all knew he was going to be super even before you interviewed those fake candidates. You even spent thousands on a bogus search! Your money might as well be tied to the Cartel, because the end result is bloody and messy! I am so sick and tired of these games you people play at the expense of taxpayers, students and employees of this district! Enough is enough with your corruptive and unethical ways! WTH? Is anyone out there with some dignity and honor EVER going to remove your evilness from our district? EVER??? So you offer Carlos $ for his failed campaign against Lon, only to help him leave the board! I hope you didn’t spend a lot, b/c his campaign was doomed from the start. I for one am glad he lost, but apparently, you must’ve promised him something else for his “sudden loyalty” to get him next to your as Vice. We all know Carlos is a wolf in very big sheep’s clothing and Tuesday night proved it! YOU ALL are evil doers who need to go away. Starting from senile and backstabbing Sutherland, all the way to the fake Jackson!!! Make no mistake Joe and Jane Q. Public, FWISD board and administrators have been screwing with OUR money for way too long and continue to do so, in order to cover their corrupted tracks. This is REAL!!! Look at the Palazzolo case that has been going on for almost 3 freakin’ years! Raise OUR taxes you say? Why not…so you can continue to throw it away in frivolous lawsuits that you all should’ve already settled or not even started in the first place! You keep losing at every turn with Palazzolo, but you keep on spending OUR money to buy you more time to bury the bodies. Sure, it’s NOT YOUR money is it? News flash: Joe is not going away anytime soon and all will be revealed in time. You, Needham, are shameless, egotistical, and ruthless as ever, as well as those hypocrites Vasquez and Sutherland! Shame on ALL of you and shame on us for allowing you all to continue to screw ALL of us over, time and time again!

  2. We need everyone within the voting bounds of FWISD to take five minutes out of your day – for the children – and vote this band of fools OUT of office in the May elections. This is a disgrace: a slap in the face to teachers and employees – another kick in the shins to our children. Needham is a political bully who is the epicenter of corruption and nepotism in this district. Sims, Robbins, Vasquez and Rangel are all up for re-election. Please help us get rid of every one of these corrupt, unethical people. They should have nothing to do with our kids – as none of them have children of their own in our schools. We limit terms of office for the President, but not School Boards. Go figure. These folks have presided over the continuing decline of FWISD. Next year: Needham, her lacky Tobi Jackson, Moss and Sutherland.

    • My Bad. Unfortunately, unless they resign from embarassment and/or exposure in a lawsuit or investigation, we are stuck with Needham, her puppet Jackson, Moss and Sutherland until 2015. FWISD will not survive until then without an mass infusion of “new blood”.

      • I will seek support in 2015..for District 2..
        Hope to have a strong support team and the same passion for changing our district.

  3. Holy COW!!! Academics is going down the hill, and now this unethical board president? For the children sake, more private and charter schools are popping up in the area so less children could be affected or exposed to this mess. The Startelegram only dedicated few words to inform the public about this distasteful mess, or let’s call it embarrassment.

    At least of some business are happy that at least some students are prepared for their business in the school of choice. 0.6% of high school students are lucky to be in those school of choice programs that are sold to camouflage the dropout rate in high school.

    Holy COW and Holy BULL!!! Let’s include the Holy CHICKEN in case you don’t like red meat. Holy POTATO!!! for the vegetarians.

    Election is coming soon… stay tune.

  4. I agree with the comments about replacing the board to begin to move the district forward. In order to create transformation we need to be at the table and will make it my goal to be at the table. Tobin Jackson will be have a candidate to run against her, I can guarantee it. We need to change the way the board conducts business especially when it comes to items that affect children. One thing is to conduct private matters legal by law but when it comes to purchases or items that affect the district it’s all behind closed doors. All we hear is ” let’s get to voting” and we have on idea what they voted on. It’s time to change the administration, all we get is the same people, with different title and more money added to their salary. Do we see any changes?
    I believe in giving people an opportunity to show the merits of their work and right now I have not seen anything different from the current administration. If you go down to the campus level you will hear principals needing help, support, teachers needing training and a vision and the most affected are the students who have no say in what the adults do. Why hire firms to give you suggestions on change and then you keep the same system in place?

    2013 is the first step to making change— 2015 is the next step. Let’s join forces and truly transform this district. There are good people in it who are in the shadows.

  5. You will have plenty of support from Teachers and Employees who want Jackson and the rest GONE. There is a reason we are anonymous – we don’t want to wind up like Palazzolo. His trial will go a long toward exposing the corruption – including Jackson’s role in the witch hunt.