A recording of the executive session of last Monday’s special school board meeting was leaked…by the school district. An hour-long recording of the school board trustees talking behind closed doors about the settlement agreement to end whistleblower Joe Palazzolo’s lawsuit was posted on the district’s website.

During the part of the meeting open to the public, the Board President Judy Needham announced that the board had signed an amended version of the settlement that ended Palazzolo’s brief wrongful termination trial two weeks ago in Wise County. The agreement sounded like a dream deal for the former assistant principal turned whistleblower at Arlington Heights. It awarded him $300,000 and a two-year administrative contract.

Needham wouldn’t say at that time what those amendments to the agreement were, but the leaked audio revealed the two side’s sticking points.

BL TL FTB (300 x 250 px)

Trustees apparently plan to put Palazzolo in some “warehouse” job away from children. And – this part is no surprise – the trustees want a clause in which Palazzolo promises not to disclose the settlement terms nor to disparage the district.

There was never any allegation made public or shared with Palazzolo about any substantive misconduct with students. In the meeting, District trustees and its legal team even discuss softening the language of “keeping him away from children,” so as not to suggest inappropriate behavior.

Parts of the recording are unintelligible, and during other segments it is unclear who is speaking.

A voice that sounds like Thomas Brandt, a Dallas attorney who represented the school district in the trial, said that the two sides had a verbal agreement about the type of job Palazzolo would be given.

“We had an oral representation about what we’d agreed upon,” he said. “One of them was that we said he is not going to be working with children, he’ll be in a warehouse, that was agreed to [by Palazzolo’s lawyer Jason Smith].”

Valerie Carrillo, chief legal counsel for the district, supported Brandt’s assertion.

“When we were in the judge’s chambers I told Mr. Smith that the plaintiff would not be allowed to work with students, and he said ‘yeah that’s fine, he’ll go work in a warehouse or something,’” she said. “Of course when I put it in writing …he didn’t want that language in there. He didn’t feel it necessary.”

Just after the three-minute mark, a voice that sounds like that of Superintendent Walter Dansby said that he’d “rather the district lose in court” than be responsible for Palazzolo being around children.

Brandt recommended the board “hold fast on that,” he said. “I don’t think there is any reason why we should cave on that issue.”

The contract Palazzolo signed is a standard two-year administrator’s contract, so if the district wants to keep him away from students, it would have to be specified in the settlement, someone in the room said.

Brandt also rejected Smith’s proposal that the two sides issue a joint statement, “because we didn’t want to have a picture with Mr. Dansby and Mr. Palazzolo… singing Kumbaya.”

Brandt also suggested that Palazzolo’s next supervisor would have a difficult job. Should Palazzolo be terminated or his contract not renewed, Brandt recommended that the office of professional standards select an objective third party to investigate the case, because of the history of animosity between the Palazzolo and the district.

“The second day on the job I predict Mr. Palazzolo will make a complaint to OPS, and OPS will feel like, whatever we do, we’re going to be criticized,” he said. “We have a history with this fellow, and we’re going to look like were biased.”

The most vocal trustee in the executive session was T.A. Sims, who was concerned that Palazzolo would be a “lifelong employee” and tough to get rid of.

Brandt also revealed that the district had offered Palazzolo a $500,000 settlement.

“He turned down $500,000 in favor of $300,000 and two years [contract],” he said. “[The contract] is worth more to him because it’s harder to get rid of him.”

Someone else in the room concluded that if Palazzolo were to ever be terminated or his contract not renewed, another lawsuit would be certain.

“There is no doubt that if there is ever reason to not renew his contract for cause, he will sue,” the man said. “That’s a foregone conclusion.”

A woman who sounded like trustee Ann Sutherland said that she was disturbed by news reports that suggested Palazzolo was looking forward to resuming his career.

“I don’t think there is a person in this room that thinks he has a career in the future, but he’s obviously thinking that,” she said.

Brandt speculated that if a settlement isn’t reached, Wise County District Judge John Fostel, who is hearing the case, would be more sympathetic to Smith’s arguments.

“If we don’t get a deal, my life is going to be a living hell during the case, before the judge,” he said. “He will not be predisposed to being gentle with me in the future. So this is the best possible position, so we can say, ‘Judge, we’ve done all we can…’”

The district’s trustees and its legal team decided to approve a version of the settlement that kept the clause that Palazzolo not be allowed around children, but agreed to try and word it more delicately.

Brandt called the district’s version a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal, and urged the board to “continue the brinksmanship and see if they flinch first.”

At the end of the session one person in the room complained that the district had given Palazzolo too much. Another hoped he would “come to his senses and take the money and the job.”

Another point of contention between the two sides included the location of the trial in the case the agreement is breached – Smith wants the trial held in Wise County, attorneys for the district want it in Tarrant.

The audio of the meeting was taken down this morning.


The audio of the meeting is up on Youtube in three segments. Here are the first, second, and third.

Jason Smith, the attorney for Joe Palazzolo issued two statements in response to the leak:

“It sounds like the district wants to change the deal,” he said. “Mr. Palazzolo is willing to honor his word. It is time for the district to set a good example to the children it educates and live up to its word”

He also disputed the assertion made by the district’s legal team that he had agreed to a deal that would place his client in a position away from students.

“Neither Mr. Palozzolo nor his counsel ever agreed to any provision that required him to stay away from children,” he said. “Even the district’s lawyer admitted during opening statement of the trial that there was no misconduct by Mr. Palazzolo involving children ultimately found.”



  1. Here is the definitive proof that our school board and chief administrator are nothing but vindictive jackasses. I hope that Joe says no and they go back to court.

  2. just in listening to the district attorney speak, he came to lie to them because he knows he messed up. Now he is trying to cover up what he agreed to without consulting. He says agreed to verbally but if it’s not written it’s not happening. Also the defense he proposed is stupid and I am no lawyer but I would know better.

    Still our elected board members were judge, jury and executioners because they cannot honor their word and for sure want everything kept secret. If this doesn’t wake up the voters on the corruption happening at the very top then I have no idea what else would.

  3. These recorded sessions are a stellar leak. I am so sorry for the one who filtered this executive meeting. You did a fantastic job! You need to start packing your belongings.

    You need to pay attention to what the Superintend Dansby said to somebody seating next to him when he talked about an “independent counsel.” He was talking that Palazzolo should be assigned to an “independent counsel” that he knew, in case Palazzolo files a complaint after been re-hired on the “warehouse” job. That counselor did a pretty good job to a principal…

    Dansby is telling that person that he knows an independent counselor who can do the assignment. “He did something for a principal to get the job done.” You need to listen carefully at the end of the second video and the beginning of the third video when Sims is talking. This is a great example of how dirty and unethical Dansby can be to accomplish his job. I have said you are dealing with Capos.

    Palazzolo and Smith, if you accept what is being proposed, you are going to be the biggest loser in history. With this recording, go back to the judge and let him listen this conversation. This agreement is about how they are going to kill your client on the job. If Palazzolo visit all warehouses in FWISD, I think he wont be pleased to put himself in that situation because his certification by the State Board of Education is not about managing a warehouse.

    This was another dirty meeting. Somebody needs to make a written transcript about this meeting with all details and be published.

    Palazzolo, you have the bull by the horns. I understand that the whistleblower cases are very generous, and you can get as much as you want to live your life and save all student in this district. If you do not go back to court and pursue the trial with the same judge, you will regret it for the rest of your life.

    You need to think about yourself, the children of our city, the businesses and taxpayers of Fort Worth. What I heard was a dishonest group of people making strategies of how to get rid of a professional and hero.



    • Maybe P needs a new attorney. This guy Smith should be asking the Judge to schedule an immediate trial. The damages have just x10.

  4. You know when you pass a major car accident; you just can’t stop yourself from looking, even though you know it’s going to be horrific. Well, it’s the same thing here…with the audio…it was agonizing and difficult to listen to, but I couldn’t help myself, regardless of how disgusting I knew it would be. Fortunately, I only listened to it intermittently, because I couldn’t stomach it all the way through. I always wondered, no actually, knew, the type of insidious banter that goes on behind those special closed door meetings. All of the people in the audio, known and unknown, are ruthless, despicable and arrogant human beings.

    I have followed this case closely for the past 3 years, every disgusting twist and turn. I have even blogged under different pseudonyms to spread my wealth of truth around, so as not to appear too obvious and/or repetitive, or worst, have my anonymity discovered. Nevertheless, THIS exact pseudonym I am using now, has never been more relevant than this moment. I am hanging up the other names and sticking to “JUSTICE” from now on, regardless if I blog my truths a lot or get discovered! Now more than ever; we need more people to rally together, to ensure that Palazzolo and others affected by this district’s malice receive their justice and the scoundrels of FWISD receive their due penance. I’ve cautiously speculated in hundreds of comments in the past 3 years about this district’s practice of corruption, retaliation, bullying and discrimination. But after hearing the audio, it is no longer speculation, but more a reality! I want to believe this audio was some type of divine intervention; conversely, a big part of me thinks it was intentional! Whomever or whatever it was; your kind, albeit risky gesture, is going to historically set precedence in employee lawsuits versus school districts! I know for a fact the audio was sent to numerous key people/organizations in the education industry, as well as certain media people, who are not lined in Judy Needham’s pockets.

    FWISD: You have no one to blame but yourselves! The constituents of this district are sick and tired of your continued display of disingenuous behaviors, past and present. This blatant duplicity and character assassination of Palazzolo MUST STOP! It’s time to face your demons. And to Jason Smith: I suggest you start rethinking who you are TRULY representing here! My suggestion is you make sure all of the i’s are dotted and t’s crossed, because Palazzolo has had enough…WE have ALL had enough! Heed this advice: This district is known to throw ANYONE under the bus, regardless of who they are; the audio is living proof of that! I am willing to bet many, many, heads are going to roll down the hill, maybe even sooner than people think. It’s coming FWISD and the walking papers will have YOUR names on them for a change!

    Oh, and “Insurrectionist”: FWISD doesn’t just have one “Closer” that is planted in certain departments, which benefits the district; they have many, especially “good ole’ boys”, who retired from the district or “faked retirement”. FWISD, mostly Dansby, believe indeed that they are “judge, jury and executioner”. Not a wonder Tocco was Dansby’s idol! I surmise that Tocco’s psychopathic behavior rubbed off on Dansby for sure! And we all know what happened to Tocco!!! From my mouth to God’s ear!

  5. This needs to go to trial to expose Needham and Dansby’s involvement. This is not about Palazzolo – this is distraction. I believe the Judge and anyone else will see this as needless delay of the inevitable trial. The public needs to hear what Palazzolo reported to TEA.
    And no one believes for one minute it was Robert Ray.

  6. Story is also linked from Bud Kennedy. Stunning insight into the corruption which is FWISD . I had to wonder if any of the Board Members actually read any of the Teacher statements to make the comments they made. I for one believe it is time to ask Dansby to step down. There has been a continued decline in student performance and as evidenced by this, an increase in dirty tricks and politics. Judy it is time to go. You admitted violating the Open Meetings Act by discussing an item not on the agenda. This is more of the deception parents have come to expect from you and this Board. Amazing Sims stayed awake long enough to make any comment. Finally, I am absolutely disgusted by the comments of Ann Sutherland. How much $$$ have you wasted on this cover-up over the past three years? I for one would like to see the Internal Audit which came out earlier this year.

  7. I listened to the recordings several times. Seems strange that the attorney spoke a lot about the “Rule 11 Agreement” yet apparently never provided these clowns with a copy of it to see exactly what he (their attorney) had agreed to. Someone in authority also had to agree. Who was it? Do they seriously think this guy is going from a High School Assistant Principal to a Warehouse Worker? This is just more of the same in the sad sad tale of FWISD.

  8. Hello fellow bloggers

    initially i wasn’t aware of the audio link since I normally listen to all board meetings. But someone did go into the June 17 file and heard this. I was able to download it before it was removed. And yes we spread it around and hope you will all send the links to neighbors all over the city so that they can hear the same things we know are happening in the district. I contacted Bud at the star and he didn’t seemed interested and was rude in his response. Surprised if he reports on it. This audio will be great to expose for those running for re-election in 2015 to remind the voters of the type of people they keep sending back to the board. Whomever posted it may not have had an idea because it’s common practice to post it but I don’t think they realized that most if was executive session and at times you do hear discussions in other regular meetings. Now they will more careful and we may not get to hear more of the back door deals they get to make. We all know the truth and it’s unfortunate that new board member Avila jumped right into the pit. Yes the district has their version of what they say happened but I don’t think he got all the information from the other side. So beware to other new board members don’t get sucked in. This is not over and believe me the more we band together then a force to be reckoned with. Spread the word, get it out on social media. Our kids once again are suffering as well as the taxpayers.

  9. Well Mr. Avilla? Do you think you might want to research this case a little more before casting a vote? You haven’t yet seen the text Perry sent to the AHHS staff advising she “…was in bed with the Lesbo” (non other than Judy Needham) – during school hours! You should also know that she was “busted by the Star Telegram Watchdog 6 years ago for stealing gate receipts as reported by two coaches who Walter Dansby pressured to resign. In ALL cases Dansby covered for her as Director of Athletics as did Needham her special “buddy”. Perry was moved by Dansby to AHHS in the first place because it was Needham’s high school.

  10. Fort Worth Star-Telegram (TX)
    June 29, 2002
    School executive under investigation over his resume
    Author: JENNIFER AUTREY; Star-Telegram Staff Writer
    Edition: FINAL
    Section: Metro;Fort Worth & Region
    Page: 8
    Article Text:
    A supervisor promoted to help overhaul the Fort Worth school district’s troubled maintenance department is himself under an internal investigation amid questions about his resume.
    Gene Oehl, who was named the new executive director of custodial services Tuesday, listed a bachelor of science degree from Texas A&M University among his qualifications. The resume was given to trustees before they unanimously approved his hiring.
    But Registrar Donald Carter told the Star-Telegram that, according to the university’s records, Oehl did not complete requirements for a degree. He attended classes from 1966 to 1970, Carter said.
    Oehl, 56, who has worked for the district for more than two decades, did not return repeated phone calls.
    He is one of two men promoted as part of a reorganization of the department that oversees custodial, maintenance and construction projects. Deputy Superintendent Walter Dansby revamped the department in response to frequent complaints about performance, including criticism from state Comptroller Carole Keeton Rylander. The FBI is also investigating the district’s construction spending.
    “In my estimation, he was the best person for the job,” said Dansby, who declined to comment on the investigation.
    The district began the investigation after the newspaper asked about the resume discrepancy Friday. Dansby said he hopes that it will be finished by next week.

  11. Here are two links to refresher stories written by the late Betty Brink, about Superintendent Dansby’s failed decision making process!

    Story about Mary Bull; the fired (by FWISD twice), fired (as Superintendent for Vallejo ISD, California), and rehired (by FWISD). Bull was rehired by FWISD to be a “consultant”. Another blogger discovered a comment posted by ( claiming to reach out to concerned bloggers, to rally together against FWISD. Miss Molly, posted the same comment in other stories about FWISD during the same time frame. The email address was traced to a person in California! Coincidence?

    Story about former Dunbar HS Principal, “Nipple-pincher” Williams; he was accused of pinching the nipples of football players as a form of discipline, as well as taking pictures of shirtless students on campus. He admitted to accusations, moved up to central and paid his full salary to sit in an office and do nothing!



    You need to change lawyer immediately. You need to find a law firm that specializes in whistleblower cases. I have a lot of reservation with the lawyer you have because of the move to settle for 300 K. Maybe you don’t need to fire J. Smith, but you need to find another law firm that advise you about the whistleblower case.

    UEA helped you to with one of they lawyer to bring your case to court. Just be careful, UEA has so much interest in the district and has a closing relationship with the Capos. The negotiations dealt between UEA and the Capos through the years have been suspicious. The negotiations have been liked a rap song: “you give me this, I give you that.” Don’t forget that UEA highly recommend Dansby to the post for Super. Watch the videos prior to Dansby appointment and you will convince yourself. If I were you, I would definitely change the law firm. I understand you have to pay your dues, and you might not have that money, but you are in the middle of the devils. I do not have a doubt that J. Smith is capable of doing the job, but I have my reservations of what he is representing in this case. I was not surprised with the move for a settlement because that game was rehearsed. “I will give you this, you’ll give me that.” (Pardon, my rap)

    If you are smart, go back to court and use the recording from the executive meeting to the judge to learn if your settlement is in good faith. The capos are afraid of you because you have the evidences that will put them on the street and damage their career. If you do not have a career with the district, why do you want to keep the capos career of corruption to the expenses of children’s fund?

    The whistleblower cases are interesting and monetary rewarding. You probably do not have to worry about your career if you win this case. You do not need to be placed in a warehouse and have a bright career with rats. TEA needs to learn how business is taking care of with the FWISD Board of Trustees. That conversation should not even take place in that way in an executive meeting. The state should take over and assign the FWISD to an independent counsel, but not the same Dansby knows.

    The video or voice recording is the most valuable tool in your case to go back to court. Tell the judge how the other party is behaving with the promise the made you. The district lawyers know the language of how to make your life miserable and the ones who become in contact with you. I told you before this settlement is accepting a prison at you own will.

  13. Okay, yesterday I thought someone took my comment down, but realized that I was reading the wrong the article…my bad! But today, I realize that the article I posted last night came up with a weird comment of itself! Have any of you bloggers ever had the words, “Your comment is being moderated”? Hmmm, oh well, no problem right? I will post my info again!

    I am posting 2 links on stories written by the late Betty Brink, where she reported separate “Dansby fails”. The first was the firing, firing, and rehiring of Mary Bull, former “also fired” Superintendent for the Vallejo ISD in California. The second is the disgusting former Dunbar principal, Williams, aka “the nipple pincher”. Oh the tangled webs Dansby weaves! But don’t be fooled; he gets a lot of support and deal brokering from Judy Needham. Dansby doesn’t need any help in the arrogance dept, but everyone knows he owes Needham, Vasquez, Sutherland and Rangel A LOT for being appointed Super! That in and of itself is another cover-up that will soon be discovered, when they start investigating these malicious yahoos for all their corrupted deals! Read the stories and also the comments…you will be amazed in wonder, as to why these idiots (Dansby and the whole board) are still around! Oh, and what reason do you think motivated the board to reschedule their July board meeting? I’m thinking its for Dansby and Needham to think about how they will find an internal scapegoat to hold them responsible for the audio and then some. I hear that spiders from “tangled webs” eat their own! Now that’s a great way to get rid of this administration, don’t you think?

  14. I am posting 2 links on stories written by the late Betty Brink, where she reported separate “Dansby fails”. The first was the firing, firing, and rehiring of Mary Bull, former “also fired” Superintendent for the Vallejo ISD in California. The second is the disgusting former Dunbar principal, Williams, aka “the nipple pincher”. Oh the tangled webs Dansby weaves! But don’t be fooled; he gets a lot of support and deal brokering from Judy Needham. Dansby doesn’t need any help in the arrogance dept, but everyone knows he owes Needham, Vasquez, Sutherland and Rangel A LOT for being appointed Super! That in and of itself is another cover-up that will soon be discovered, when they start investigating these malicious yahoos for all their corrupted deals! Read the stories and also the comments…you will be amazed in wonder, as to why these idiots (Dansby and the whole board) are still around! Oh, and what reason do you think motivated the board to reschedule their July board meeting? I’m thinking it’s giving Dansby and Needham to think about how they will find an internal scapegoat to hold them responsible for the audio and then some. I hear that spiders from “tangled webs” eat their own! Now that’s a great way to get rid of this administration, don’t you think?

  15. Due to some kind of glitch in our filter, some of the comments were not allowed to post. They were awaiting my approval when I got to work this morning, and I went ahead and approved them all. That’s never happened before, and we’re trying to figure out what went wrong. Sorry we gave the appearance that we were censoring comments.

  16. It is time to begin the process of asking for Dansby’s resignation. Listen to his admission that “we have done this before”. Read comments for Star T editorial.
    Teachers and Staff want this corrupt bully GONE! and take Robert Ray and Sherry Breed with you! Where is the Internal Audit Report? Show the public how you are driving what is left of this District into the dirt.

    • Are you asking about the recent audit report?
      I know there was a curriculum audit and basically an audit on the organization itself on how the processes are failing students.

      Everything we have been telling the administration is wrong is exactly what is spelled out. Curriculum is not working, tests that don’t mean anything and lack of teacher training and not tying monies to support instruction. Which looks like money wasted and not tied to anything that is making an impact on students. Not sure how much has been divulged but I can send the info to the weekly to post for you all.

  17. When you swim with sharks…… as the Board begins to turn on each other and Sutherland at long last is held accountable, I offer this humble opinion to Joe:
    If your attorney does not immediately take the tapes and Rule 11 “Agreement” (which was certainly negotiated in bad faith, mis-information and deceit in typical Needham/Dansby/FWISD style) to the Judge, you must file a complaint with the Texas State Bar as he is NOT serving you and your best interests but rather is more concerned with “cutting a deal”.

  18. Have to say it is amazing just how untouchable some folks in FWISD appear to be. I’ve never seen such an incesteuous place in my life, and I’m not a young one. I’ve been in several ISDs and they all have their own incesteuous politics but WOW – nothing like the corruption and you can’t touch me of the players in FWISD. Does anybody care? Why are they allowed to do the things they do? A few comments are written here and there and then it’s all over and business continues as usual. This business is KIDS and everyone acts like they are making socks, or underwear or something that folks won’t see. EVERYONE sees and you should be embarrassed instead of walking around with your heads held high. In true Texas style, ya’ll scare the hell out of me!!!

  19. OOOOOOOMMMMMMGGGGGG!!! This just in, and more proof that deals are made by the sinisters Dansby and Needham; thet PROMOTED AHHS “invisible principal” Jason Oliver, to a BIG admin Director 3 position for the district!!!!!!! Helloooo!!?? This man is the same ass wipe, who allowed special need kids to deficate in their SpEd classroom, in potty chairs, with NO VENTILATION and major unsanitary conditions! Read the story here in the Weekly. This jackass, before the story broke, also warned teachers not to go to the media! WTF???? And who do you think has kept Oliver’s principal rep pristine, all the while allowing him to take classes for superintendency on the taxpayer’s dime during work time??? YES once again…DANSBY AND NEEDHAM!!! WOW FWISD!!! More deals and more political bullshit! Your “yes sir no sir” asswipe Oliver is truly getting paid his “silver coins” for keeping your dirty little secrets at AHHS covered up for the last 3 years! WHAT IS GOING ON HERE?????? This crap is beyond ridiculous and a blatant slap in Palazzolo’s face, not to mention all the kids and teachers, who complained about Oliver for 3 yrs! Let’s not forget about the pedophile AHHS staffer, who was having sex with a female student…also under Oliver’s watch! Where was Oliver? Where is anybody with functioning synapses to FIRE Oliver instead of promoting him!? And WHERE THE HELL has Rev Kiev Tatum been, when the majority of those SpEd students that Oliver kept in a crappy (pun intended) room???? Guess Tatum got what he needed for helping Johnson out and his buddy Dansby in, by being given a made up job at Trimble Tech! You all are a bunch of self-serving asswipes, who DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT KIDS! PARENTS: I would be outraged if I were you!

  20. so they pulled the video off of youtube because of copyright. It’s ok there are still copies to publish as needed. They can fight it all they want but the truth is out about how they do things. We need to keep the pressure up.

  21. Justice- That teacher/coach who was engaging in sexual activity with the female students (yes, plural….as in more than one!) was pushed on him by Oliver’s very own wife, an elementary teacher who also works for the district. She worked with the “perv” at his previous school where he served as a long term sub. Also at Heights because of his wife’s “strong” recommendation- a male counselor who also work with her and the perv!