At the Wise County Courthouse’s 271st judicial district court, the long-awaited trial of former Arlington Heights assistant principal and whistle-blower Joe Palazzolo began today. Fort Worth Weekly first reported on the allegations of widespread wrongdoing at Heights in August of 2010. Palazzolo was summarily fired, and has been yo-yoed in and out of court ever since.

Only the opening arguments were heard by the jury today.

The attorney for Palazzolo made the point that he was fired just three weeks after filing a complaint against Arlington Heights with the Texas Education Agency. His termination, attorney Jason Smith alleged, was retaliation for bringing embarrassing facts about the district to light,  such as the school allowing students who didn’t meet the necessary criteria to graduate, in order to inflate its graduation numbers.


The school district’s attorney, Thomas Brandt, countered by listing seven reasons he was terminated, which included lying about and covering up his federal conviction for failing to pay $60,000 in child support, disrespecting  and bullying students, and violating various district policies.

“He simply did not live up to the standards we expect in any school district,” an attorney for the district said. “Mr. Palazzolo was fired because of his repeated wrongdoing at Arlington Heights. He was fired because he lied, he covered it up, he bullied, and he discriminated.”

Interestingly, the district’s attorney credited current Assistant Superintendent Robert Ray with blowing the whistle on what he called “the mess” at Heights, not Palazzolo. He also named one of the school’s special education teachers, Chad Whitt, as another whistle-blower and credited the school district for protecting those who spoke out against what was going on Heights.

In 2011, a Fort Worth Weekly story revealed that Whitt told a Texas Education Agency judge at Palazzolo’s appeal of his firing that he was threatened with termination after testifying for Palazzolo. Whitt is expected to be called by the prosecution to testify tomorrow.


  1. Can you forgive me for laughing? Does Robert Ray turn to be the whistleblower? Ray can do whatever to protect the interest of the power. He has done with his power terrible things. He kissed Dr. Johnson feet many times elevating her to sainthood, of course to keep his reign in the district. He does not have compassion when he has to protect the clan. By saying there is a mess at AH, then did he become the whistleblower? Clarification: The court need to ask the other whistleblowers – Linares, Sherry Breed, Sorum, Neildman, Legal team, Mendoza, and the guy (Johnson) who manages the money.

    Now do you understand why Dansby asked Robert to stay when he tried to retire two years ago? He is the key player in guarding the closet of FWISD administrators. That man should be fired by Dansby the first day he became a Super. Guess what? Dansby could not let the man of all secrets go. He is quiet and portrays himself as a wise man. Is it wise is to say that he was the one who known about the mess in that school? Wait a minute; he was the administrator that all information has to pass through him first. He kept a tag war with Linares about power. Linares retired, and she became the wiser woman.

    Palazzolo case will be one of those legal cases that will be a shame to the FWISD. Students will learn about how corruption can be maintained by years with the children money.

    Please keep us informed about this situation because all taxpayers need to know what is happening with their children’s money. Do you understand now why the Dansby and his team are interested in raising 4% to all teachers? To keep people happy because he siphoned the money creating positions that do not have to do with classrooms. The traveling people they are everywhere doing what? He invested six million in positions that would be difficult to justify the effectiveness. That was a good raise for teachers and teacher’s assistants.

  2. Wow FWISD! Robert Ray was your smoking gun? Really??? This smells as rotten as the deal to hire Dansby as permanent super! Funny how this is just now coming out, after 3 years!? I know Ray has been the “silent but deadly” voice out there, especially when Johnson was at the helm. But as a whistleblower? And one thing is right on the money…literally, is that he got a job promotion for his alleged whistleblowing! Come on…please, you guys are selling, but I’m not buying! Ray was on his way out, b/c he was ready to retire, leave all the drama and his name out of the corruption. Dansby talked him into staying, so he could continue the cover-up on the Palazzolo firing and then some. The other “SBD” voice was/is, Dansby, who claimed he didn’t know anything that Johnson and Reyna did with the AHHS debacle, Palazzolo and the reassignment of Sharon Herrera to a lesser job. Ray is as dirty as the rest of them, along with Dansby! Ray is so dirty that I seem to recall a role that he played in “helping” a man he was friends with (OPS investigator) with $, calling it a “gift” in the tune of $10K…for what? Well, he said to “help”, we know it was for dredging up crap on Palazzolo’s irrelevant and insignificant history! This “man” even attended Ray’s church! Yes, Ray is behind this, as well as the evil trustees, who appear to always come out unscathed. This case is going down in history and it’s just getting started. Palazzolo has been the driving force behind bringing justice to the surface. It will NOT stop with this trial; it is only the beginning, no matter what happens in the end. Let’s hope and pray that it will come out in favor of Palazzolo and the evil doers get what they deserve!

  3. Frustrated do not forget Robert Ray was one of the administrators who orchestrated the move of the AH principal to Paschal HS to conceal the mess in AH. His plan failed because somebody opened his mouth.

    Reyna is going to testify in this trial. She does not anything to lose because she is no longer under the influence of the Mafioso.

    It is going to be interesting. Their legal team must be happy with all the money they will receive for representing the district. It is the children’s money, and taxpayers money. Unscrupulous people.

  4. I worked for years with Joe Palazzolo and feel that I knew his character well. Him “blowing the whistle” on district wrongdoing sounds true to form with the Palazzolo I came to know. The drek dug up by the district is highly implausible and I believe it is deliberately designed to besmirch his good name and to impugn his character so they can attempt to legally weasle out of the charges brought against them as well as make him pay for telling the truth about what was (and may be STILL going on) at Arlington Heights. When I knew him, he was a good teacher with his own mind when it came to how our schools are being run, or rather, MIS-run. THIS is what has landed him in this mess and nothing else. He didn’t suffer fools gladly and could be prickly, even with co-workers if they didn’t share his opinions, although I never witnessed this first hand. But overall he was a stand up guy, and NOT the kind of person this district is trying to make him out to be in the media. Sad thing is, there are LOTS of districts out there doing the same kinds of things as what this school is accused of, and they don’t have anyone brave enough, like Palazzolo has been throughout this ordeal, to bring this kind of scam and unethical behavior to light. The cost to the whistleblower is simply too high a price to pay for most. The costs to taxpayers, our kids, and to our society as a whole from this kind of officially sanctioned misbehavior is high as well. This guy needs to be recognized as a hero. Instead he has been hounded like a criminal. But unfortunately, THIS is the state of a LOT of our public schools today.