Like any good soap opera, the Joe Palazzolo saga has had its moments of high drama. Two weeks ago a Decatur judge set a March 18 date for the former vice principal turned whistleblower’s second shot at a courtroom showdown with the Fort Worth school district that canned him after he exposed widespread corruption at Arlington Heights. What’s happened since then could serve as source material for The Bold and the Beautiful. Or better yet, it could become the plot line for a new daytime serial known as Days of our School District.
Last June, Palazollo’s trial was cut short when a settlement was reached. The school board, however, demanded changes to the agreement, and the deal collapsed. [Cue organ music.] In a juicy twist, the board’s closed session to discuss the settlement was “accidentally” recorded and leaked on the district’s website –– though one trustee claims the recording had been edited.
Last October, Palazzolo announced he had changed attorneys with the intention of taking his case back to trial. Victoria Neave replaced Jason Smith as his lawyer.
During the hearing in Wise County, school district attorney Thomas Brandt asked for a trial date in June. It appeared to be a delaying tactic to drag out a case that has already dragged on longer than a Marlon Brando death scene. Judge John Fostel reminded Brandt that the attorney had been ready to try the case last year.
Neave dropped a motion that would have compelled the district to produce the entire audio recording of its closed session, but she’s not letting the issue go. She plans to file additional lawsuits against the school district stemming from the leaked recording, for defamation against Palazzolo and for violating the Texas Open Meetings Act.
Like Chairs Through the Window
Speaking of Fort Worth schools and soap operas, trustee Tobi Jackson has been cast in a primetime drama. The Dallas Morning News reported on January 21 that Jackson has taken a position as principal of the Fort Worth campus of Prime Prep Academy. Pro football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders, who co-founded the troubled charter school company with D.L. Wallace, recently said at a school meeting that he wanted to throw a chair and break Wallace’s neck.
Last year, Jackson and her fellow trustees voted to approve the hiring of former Dallas school district principal Leicha Shaver as the new principal at Fort Worth’s South Hills High School. After public outcry, the board reconsidered. Seems some people didn’t take kindly to the fact that Shaver was forced out of her job as principal of Dallas’s Roosevelt High School after hiring relatives and being accused of misusing federal grant money. She didn’t stay unemployed long; Prime Prep recently hired her to oversee its Dallas campus.
Maybe Sanders’ turf toe issues are still clouding his judgment.