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.


  1. This is a dark cloud in the district that does not go away as long as they hold on to the facts. If there are wrongs committed, come out and say them and let’s move on. From the beginning, everything the district provided seemed fuzzy and did not add up. Hiring lawyers to hide things is not a smart investment on an issue that has paid more than 500,000 dollars of tax money that could be going to the classrooms. The issue here is that we have power brokers who want to hold on to power and also the longer they stall the more incriminating it becomes. What is the district hiding? Could it be the same issue with AHHS where teachers were dating students, found out it was true and the district did nothing? We have had picture proof of the teacher and student traveling to Europe and yet the teacher is still teaching at the same high school. One way or another the truth will come and the truth will set you free. I say this for for the students who are being hurt by the type of tactics of hiding information and then promoting the same individuals who helped hide these shameful acts.
    So for the sake of the district FWISD, do the right thing. Those of you on the board who made mistakes, admit and let the public decide your fate. Don’t be selfish.

    So how can a trustee who is for public education then be a part of a charter school? how is that supporting what she is supposed to represent? This came by surprise as neither the district said anything and apparently the district was caught off guard as well. Let’s see what communication comes about, i’m sure it will be a nice written communique “singleness of purpose” in hiding the truth.

    • Thats a lot tax payer money that could be used on students, not athletics but meaningful studies. Instead the school board wants to go to trail for their stupid mistakes

  2. This is just the latest scandal involving Tobi Jackson and her mentor Judy Needham. Time to at least “act’ like a Board President Ms. Moss and ask – no demand – Jackson’s resignation. This is an outrage to every parent in FWISD.
    On the AHHS/Palazzolo issue, $500,000 was the figure in late 2011. We are now in our THIRD year beyond that. The figure is double and that does not include time, materials and copying internally by Dansby. This is a disgrace.

    • “Fearless leader and my friend, Principal Daniel Scroggins. I’m thankful to be along for the ride!”. Maybe she should tell parents why her friend was doing and why he resigned from Poly. Guess THAT explains why the teachers did not go to her for help. Add that to supporting the hiring of Shaver. The sooner people in her district take off the blinders, the better for all children in FWISD. And why do all the schools in your district have to post the same message?

  3. If we’re looking at movies that are comparable to FWISD, I think maybe it would be “The Abyss” or “Armageddon”!? Well, the latter will probably be truer after the Palazzolo trial March 18th! Here we are, 4 yrs later and nothing has changed; we have the same players at the helm of a district that continues to be in a disheveled state. I personally grow more and more frustrated as the days, months and years have passed, as people like Joe and the teachers at AHHS continue to swim in the muck of administration venality. The climate of fear and intimidation has not changed…it will never change…unless the “big house” is deloused of the insidious parasitic insects! And you know who you are and what you have done. The longer this lawsuit goes on, the more money is being spent by this district to hide the truth. Lies do not beget more lies, unless it seems you are FWISD, who apparently thinks it is the norm! Let’s face it; the district doesn’t corner the market on abuse of power, deceit, over spending taxpayer money, bullying, and corruption and so on. One has to only look at this state’s gov, who has been under investigation for coercion and stooping the state for millions spent on his presidential campaign! Perry models the very culture that gives big organizations, such as FWISD, permission to do what they want, when they want, and do it to whomever they want. It’s them against us…entitlement against the little people, who do as they are told, because the “trenchers”, such as teachers, professionals, low paid staff and others are treated as small and insignificant objects. This mentality brings us to where we are right now…stuck with overly paid bully administrators, entitled board members abusing their power, impending expensive lawsuits, etc. You tell me, is this norm?
    Are we all becoming so emotionally, mentally and physically drained that it appears maybe the district’s mindset is right and we are absolutely wrong? Are we so hell bent on fighting for justice that we continue to bark up the wrong tree, b/c the district’s way is really the right way? You be the judge! Is it right, when the district down played embezzlement, sexual harassment, fraud, cheating, exclusionary discipline, etc., at AHHS? Is it right to transfer, demote and fire a man, who brought forth complaints from others, who were tired of the corrupted culture affecting students and staff? Is it right to turn this very same man’s life and family upside down for the past 4 years locked in litigation, all the while making him out to look like a heartless monster, only because he believes in justice? Is it right to allow teachers to abuse special needs students (AHHS), pinch their nipples (Dunbar HS), take shirtless pictures of them (Dunbar HS), have improper sexual relationships between students and teachers (AHHS, Diamond Hill Jarvis), and between administrators and teachers (Poly HS, AHHS)? The answer is an indelible NO; it is not right…it is NOT the norm…we are NOT small or insignificant, and justice DOES supersede wrongdoing…every time!!! Oh there is more I could mention, but that would leave me feeling more exasperated than when I started this post!
    We’re tired FWISD; we want closure and we want it now, for the sake of our kids! Admit to your mistakes, so we can all move forward and resume our lives. Do the right thing and your reward will assessed by someone much higher than us!

  4. In my opinion, the end is in sight. The reign of Judy Needham is almost over. The trial on March 18 will finally bring daylight to a rat-infested organization and the group of corrupt and spineless individuals who run not only FWISD, but the Tarrant Regional Water Authority (where her partner Marty Leonard reigns supreme) and the City of Fort Worth (led by her buddy Betsy Price). When her secret meetings with Tobi Jackson and Betsy Price are exposed, her manipulation of the unethical and weak minded like Walter Dansby, her empire building, her catering to the affluent at the expense of the masses and our children, her wanton and vicious efforts to silence truth and destroy lives exposed, a chain reaction of cleansing will begin which will be unstoppable and will spread throughout this City. The corrupt behavior of Needham, Moss, Sims, and Robbins which has gone on for years (as reported by Betty Brink and the Weekly as far back as 2003) may finally come to an end. Even the practice of allowing the children of political supporters living in Aledo and surrounding communities to attend schools in FWISD without paying tuition will end. People may even wonder why certain high profile employees don’t even bother to send their children to school in the very District where they work. This trial will shake education in Texas to its very core – which is probably why the Texas Association of School Boards continues to help defend them. Parents will finally see what really goes on behind the scenes and why our schools are in crisis. And I agree, Since she hadn’t the integrity to resign on her own, I believe the Board must demand Tobi Jackson’s resignation. That alone may force the issue for those who allegedly knew but said nothing like Needham, Sims and Dansby.

    • Right own… Jackson should resign and face justice. The others will follow as they are corrupt as she is.. don’t forget elections next year.. need to replace those

    • I hope your right about Needham and boozy buddy Besty Price, the two of them have screwed over the City of Fort Worth to tune of millions. Remember the
      Active Duty Police Body Guards?

  5. In spite of it all, NOTHING on the agenda for Tuesday on Tobi Jackson. Another fine example of the corrupt and outrageous “leadership” of FWISD under Dansby (who supposedly sets the agenda) and Moss (so-called “President”) who is also up for re-election with Jackson. Is there any BETTER reason to get rid of these people? Jackson has a blatant conflict of interest starting with her attempt to hire her now co-worker Shaver.
    As evidenced by the agenda, Dansby was well aware of her employment by the Fort Worth charter school.

      • The board did not know about this, she is lying. We have board members who were caught by surprise. She wants to run a story to say that she told the board. Let’s hope the new members stand up and let her know they don’t appreciate her using their name.

        Shame on you Tobi Jackson!!

        • Oh yeah, the media will be all over that story Tobi, if your buddy Needham tells them to run it. Face it Tobi, you lied and now you are trying to tap dance your way out. It’s a conflict of interest and you know it. Go be the wonder of Prime Academy and do us a favor and get the hell off the board! Save yourself, b/c when March 18th rolls around, all of your compadres are going to have their assess handed to them, on a silver platter of course! Bon a petit!

  6. Why is everyone so surprised at how the ISD behaves, especially the ileitis board members of the district. There are so many back handed deals being made to cover one lie for another. The district’s echelon nonchalantly makes decisions that potentially ruin the lives of so many innocent people! One of my favorite quotes from Confucius, “If you are on a journey of revenge, you best dig two graves.” The ISD seems like they have been on that exact “journey” against Mr. Palazzolo for the past 4 yrs. In the words of former board member Dr. Vasquez, when Mr. Palazzolo was being scrutinized by the board, leading to his firing; he called their actions “A witch hunt”. He was right, except we all know his support for Palazzolo was smoke and mirrors, when he quickly turned his back on him once Johnson was out and Mr. Dansby was hired permanent Super. The same could be said for Sutherland and Rangel! This witch hunt has escalated in the past 4 years and it appears it is not slowing down, because the drama remains!

    An abundance of clandestineness continues to permeate the walls of this district. The same outcry about exclusionary discipline has once again emerged from the bowels of this district’s well-kept secret, AHHS! Unfortunately, this time, it isn’t Palazzolo trying to bring justice about this issue, as he reported in 09, but it is now one of his supporters from AHHS, when the story broke in 09, who is under fire, because he refuses to abide by their discriminatory procedures. This employee and supporter of Palazzolo, never has shied away from being a key witness in last year’s trial, as well as in the upcoming trial of March 18th. I won’t say much, in case someone picks up the story. Rest assured; when the story is reported, you will see that nothing has changed at AHHS, as well as with the district, in terms of disparagement against minorities, retaliation, fear, intimidation and reversed discrimination.

    As far as Jackson is concerned, the whole thing is comical and ludicrous! Director of Prime Prep in FTW is like the blind leading the blind. When did Jackson obtain her education degree? Let me guess; she got her BS from JNU, same place she obtained her seat on the board! What a joke!

  7. It is obvious to all who have followed this story that Needham’s intent from the beginning has been to “kill the messenger” and hide the facts. Wendy Davis has just experienced first hand Needham “kill the messenger style”. Maybe when the students at AHHS who witnessed the big fight this year post it on “Fort Worth Fights” parents will begin to realize all is not well under her watch. New Board Members would do well to review Palazzolo’s original complaint to TEA and the accompanying teacher statements. You should also review the Civil Rights complaint filed with the Department of Education by Pastor Kyev Tatum. You need to know what was and is still going on in FWISD. Or were you briefed on them already? Are you now becoming part of the cover-up by default? Has Dansby been negotiating with Dept. Of Education over the AHHS investigation behind your backs for the past year? Have you seen the TEA findings for just one six week period at AHHS? Are you aware of the fine? Are you aware the administrator responsible for falsifying those documents and thousands more is still employed? Did you read the FWISD Internal Audit? Did you know Palazzolo is not the only employee who has fallen victim to similar tactics by Needham and her friends? To think that a sitting School Board Member who has been part of the Palazzolo witch hunt and AHHS cover up is now discovered to be (neither she or the Board disclosed) an unlicensed administrator of a charter school operating under that same School District IS comical. Guess its just coincidence she voted to hire her now fellow administrator, fired for illegal activity by Dallas ISD. I also suppose she is bringing this same level of “expertise” to Prime Prep. By the way, what does Board President Moss care? She and Sims have schools named for them already don’t they? Elections are coming.

  8. Let me get this straight, Jackson lied about the board knowing she was taking a position as “Head Master” for Prime Prep Academy, yet they crucify and fire Palazzolo for allegedly not reporting a 20 + yr old misdemeanor, which cost him $10 in court fees to dismiss it!!!??? This is “Affluenza” at its best! I hope the same thing that happened to that Shaeffer woman, when she was hired by FWISD and was later told “No thanks”, happens to Jackson! I say Karma will be served nice and hot! I am so disgusted that this district continues to brag about “transparency”, when all along they are lying and hiding truths from the taxpaying eye! And speaking of, people reported that AHHS is at it again by punishing minorities, namely Hispanics, more severe than Blacks or Whites! But wait, there’s more! Also reported is a teacher having an affair with a student that is STILL teaching at AHHS!? And then a principal at Poly fired for sexual harassment, not to mention the ROTC staffer at Diamond Hill, also having an affair with a 17 yrs old! WTF is going on here? This is an outrage! Paz and Ramos, it’s time to make some noise…make a difference and stop these crime games. This HAS TO STOP NOW!

  9. FWISD could not get away with this without TEA’s permission. This state stinks from the Gov’s office down to local governments. Elect Wendy Davis. She will bring integrity back to Austin.

    • Sorry, but Wendy Davis has done absolutely NOTHING to help the Teachers, Staff and Parents of FWISD. We have been asking her staff for help since the Palazzolo/AHHS scandal broke. NOTHING. We have asked in person and in writing for help in every subsequent scandal. NOTHING. Politicians are all the same, which is exactly why Rangel and Vasquez were voted out; why Dansby turned on Ann Sutherland; and why Tobi Jackson must resign now. Mr. Avila, as an attorney, why not ask the Attorney General for an opinion: Can a sitting Board Member of the School District who voted to grant the charter school, then become a senior employee of the same charter school in which she presides? Just a taxpayer, but seems like a conflict to me. Who besides perhaps Needham, Sims, Moss and Dansby knew Jackson would be hired when the FWISD Board voted to grant the charter? Should they now not also resign? Did Jackson vote to grant the charter? Is that perhaps more than a mere conflict of interest?

    • You have GOT to be kidding. Since when does FWISD listen to ANYTHING TEA instructs them to do? They did not reinstate Palazzolo – they appealed. They did not give him a new hearing – they fired him a second time. They did not give him the hearing they were ordered to and due process requires – they just ignored TEA. Even now they are scamming the DOE by artificially suppressing reports of discipline while breaking every Federal Law in the books on Special needs students while placing Students and Teachers in danger. Wake up. Davis had her chance to help and did nothing. At least TEA fined FWISD and made then develop the attendance control plan in response to Palazzolo’s complaint. The Board knew Palazzolo was the whistleblower (not that boob Robert Ray) when they fired him the first time. That was why they fired him – not because he and the FWPD officers at the AHHS Homecoming Dance denied entry to the date of some affluent diva who really lived in Aledo and certainly not over a $10.00 fine that wasn’t even on anyone’s “record” from 20+ years ago. If Wendy Davis NOW wants to be all about education, let her start by DEMANDING an across the Board investigation into FWISD. Promise us we will not loose our jobs like Palazzolo and dozens of us will come forward with proof of the corruption. TEA did it in El Paso based on the complaint of a State Senator. Why not here? Oh yeah. El Paso ISD was being run by Hispanics.

  10. I must have slept since then, but where did the information about “granting the charter” come into play! OMG…this makes it worse doesn’t it? If this is not in line with conflict of interest, I don’t know what is! So who is lying here? Jackson doesn’t do anything alone, without support from her posse led by Needham. And by the sound of her “ass kissing” about Dansby on the ISD FB page, I think he is more than involved with Jackson in this fiasco as well. Is this the plan all along, to use the district and your corrupt power to put your foot inside the charter school industry, by inserting an unqualified fool to head the charter school? I’ve never liked Dion Sanders, but I feel sorry for him that his peeps got a liar and thief to head their Dallas school and another liar to head FTW! Somewhere and someone needs to stand up and end this ridiculous farce! And Ms. LaBeau, it is NOT Wendy Davis! Have you forgotten that YOU personally talked to her aid, when the AHHS/Palazzolo debacle broke? What did she do? I too tried to contact her by email last year and I never even received an acknowledgement. I tell you this; I’ve contributed twice, once to re-elect her for Senator and another for her run for Governor, but NO MORE! One would think being our Senator, whose political stance has been education, that she would at least call for an investigation into FWISD…or something! I get that when politicians are running for office they don’t want to ruffle constituent feathers by drawing negative attention to themselves. But here’s the fluidity of that assumption; this crap with AHHS/Palazzolo/FWISD has been going on for 4 freaking years! Davis was not running for anything when this whole thing started, yet she and other politicos did nothing and still do nothing! Sorry Ms. LaBeau, if you have inside information that Davis is the “Superman” that we all have been waiting for to change this district…maybe I’ll believe you then! For now, my ONLY “Superman” is Palazzolo! His trial on March 18th is going to detonate the truths that have been silenced for so long, now that he has a REAL lawyer to defend him!

    • The District does not grant charters. This school is not associated with the FWISD at all. TEA grants the charters. Prior to posting, please research the information. While TEA does allow districts to charter schools, FWISD has never chartered a school nor been affiliated with any charter school.

      • If not a problem, why hide? Ask the A.G. Here is the statute:
        “Sec. 12.052. AUTHORIZATION. (a) In accordance with this subchapter, the board of trustees of a school district or the governing body of a home-rule school district may grant a charter to parents and teachers for a campus or a program on a campus if the board is presented with a petition signed by:
        (1) the parents of a majority of the students at that school campus; and
        (2) a majority of the classroom teachers at that school campus.
        (b) For purposes of Subsection (a)(1), the signature of only one parent of a student is required.
        (c) The board of trustees may not arbitrarily deny a charter under this section.
        Added by Acts 1995, 74th Leg., ch. 260, Sec. 1, eff. May 30, 1995.

        Sec. 12.0521. ALTERNATIVE AUTHORIZATION. (a) Notwithstanding Section 12.052, in accordance with this subchapter and in the manner provided by this section, the board of trustees of a school district or the governing body of a home-rule school district may grant a charter for:
        (1) a new district campus; or
        (2) a program that is operated:
        (A) by an entity that has entered into a contract with the district under Section 11.157 to provide educational services to the district through the campus or program; and
        (B) at a facility located in the boundaries of the district.”

        • I understand that a school district may grant a charter. I believe I said that in my previous comment.

          My only point is that it is erroneous to state that this school is in any way associated with FWISD. FWISD does not have any charter schools associated with it. I cannot comment on who hid what, as I have no knowledge of that.

          • I again would defer to the Texas Attorney General. To sit on the “Board of Directors” (analogy) of one entity and be employed by a competitor without the knowledge or approval of said Board of Directors, the stockholders, or even the client base you provide a product and service to, fails the “common sense” test.
            Problem is ten-fold when it is a public entity and you are an elected official.

          • I understand your concern. I am not sure if that is a conflict. There are several FWISD employees (in varying positions) who currently serve or have served on Boards of surrounding school districts. So I think this would be the same. Someone working for one school district, but sitting on the Board of another school district. And I thought that Ms. Jackson was working for a private school when she first became a board member. But,I may not be remembering correctly.

  11. As much as I would like to believe that come March 18 the heavens will open and a divine light of truth and justice will shine down on a court room where Palazzolo v FWISD is being tried, I’m afraid it won’t happen. During all of the time this mess has been going on nothing has changed. The same bad behavior by the same people has been exhibited time and time again. Cover ups, mis-management, nepotism, lies, attemps to buy loyalty with raises continue and will. Until the people of Ft. Worth get fed up, really fed up nothing will change, no matter what comes out in the trial. Ft. Worth has become so complacent about corruption and bad behavior by our elected officials that we are beginning to earn this behavior. As sad as it makes me to write this, I believe it to be true.

    • You may be correct. The Weekly remains the only media in Fort Worth who objectively covers FWISD and thus, the people of Fort Worth by and large, have no clue as to what is going on. I have to believe that even the powers that be in Cow Town have no idea what is going on in FWISD because Needham and her stooges lie, intimate and cover up as much to them, as they do to the public. I wish the powerful would take a moment to see what she and her followers are doing to the children and education in this town and force her to gracefully exit. The dirt tricks and deception have got to end sometime. Palazzolo and his family have not been their only victims.


    Read what the all knowing has posted regarding conspiracy to defame her. If this was not a big deal then why not say something about it. Why get upset, call out the person who wrote about it, put fellow board members under the bus when some did not know about it.
    There are no conspiracies when the truth is there in plain writing. The charter school is not part of public education, it’s an entity that does not allow every child to enter or be a part of.
    The state regulates most charters and schools but they do not mix with an independent school district unless they indicate their participation. Ms. Jackson has a conflict of interest when she is representing a public school system and then works for a particularly different system within a charter. While board members can work in other districts, they are in independent, public institutions, all working towards the same things, making sure students receive the same standards of education and promoting the schools. Prime Prep is sure not an example for anyone to follow. It’s not so much that she cannot work there or do.. it’s the fact that she hid it, thought no one would find out and now is mad because she got caught. Those that support her have seen here and know her for a long time but those of us who have been hurt by her decisions don’t see it the same way. Be more transparent about what you do, truly be intentional about cleaning up corruption and then we can talk. The truth will come out eventually.

  13. It’s true that Palozzolo isn’t the only victim and he won’t be the last. The bodies will be stacked higher and higher until this town wakes up and does something. The problem isn’t just limited to FWISD and the Water board, it’s pervasive throughout the city. Do you really think that it was a simple mistake, by the state, county, and city, that St. Francis reitrement village didn’t get free access to a road other than by having to pay a toll on the Chisholm Trail toll road. It will take the monied interests of this town to do something before we see a change unless the people of FT. Worth unite and do it themselves.

  14. Josh,we would if our elected representatives on the board would listen to us instead of the click that runs the board. Normal people see exactly what they have done and would work to come up with a reasonable solution. The minions won’t because their leader won’t let them.

    • Between this and the water board, I feel like my tax money just get whizzed down the drain. Excuse the metaphor.

      on my way to being fed up.

  15. Sickening is what is going on at AHHS now with the Boys Soccer Players (Hispanic obviously) as allegedly directed by Dansby; or the resignation of the Principal at Poly (no one dared go to Tobi for help on that because no one trusts her); or the Diamond Hill Jarvis teacher who was allegedly arrested (bet no one heard about that even though the media blasted all about a similar story at Frisco ISD the same day); or the Needham crony who stole thousands of dollars in supplies and materials to run her consulting business – another instance where FWISD tried to kill the messenger/whistleblower and did nothing to her. She is still employed; allegedly still running her business on the side. The list goes on and on……………. This is like living in the Matrix: people are asleep and do not want to wake up.

    • You can allege “conspiracy” Tobi, but what will your “herd” of blind followers say when they see the facts about what you have been up to the past four years? You voting record and associations will speak for themselves. When they are struck by the realization that you have been neck deep in feathering your political ambitions and not what is best for our children? You’ve even taken yet another page from Needham by having schools in your district use their outside signage to “campaign” for you a year in advance. Wonder what the Attorney General would say about that? Did you vote to approve the hiring of Dansby’s niece and the grandson of T.A. Sims? Maybe that’s why your “moral compass” saw nothing wrong with hiring Shaver. Did you get her the job at Prime Prep or did she bring you along as “payback”?

  16. Well it’s March 19 and nothing has been posted about the 1st day of trial. I didn’t see anything on the S-T’s website, no surprise there and no update here. Did they even start the trial yesterday? I haven’t heard a word. If anyone knows anything, please post it. I’d love to know what’s going on. Thanks in advance.