Is there anything worse than someone coming in on the tail end of a conversation, then trying to add their two cents as if they’d been there all along? That’s a party foul, right? Earlier this week, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram was a little late to the party with a story about the Fort Worth school district’s screwed-up technology. The Star-T story was about an  internal audit released last month that found the district had purchased more than $2.7 million in unnecessary and/or ineffective technology from Plano-based hucksters, Tyler Technologies. The audit reviewed the district’s transactions from October 2007 to November 2013.

The thing is, Fort Worth Weekly scribe Betty Brink popped the cork on that bottle back in 2011. Brink, who died in 2012, wrote a series of stories detailing the myriad issues surrounding the district’s costly and ineffective payroll and student records systems.

It all started when Melody Johnson was schools superintendent. The district squandered $6 million on a package of cyber-snake oil from Tyler. In 2009 Tyler’s system, which was supposed to bring the district’s payroll processing into the 21st century, caused more than 2,000 employees to be overpaid to the tune of $1.5 million, while others were not paid at all. Lawsuits over the failure of the program are still going on. In 2012 the software flubbed student data, including transcripts, grade reports, and attendance records. One employee, Aracely Chavez, a specialist in the technology department, was fired after she blew the whistle. The district eventually rehired her, but not before it handed her a large bag of settlement money.


The Star-T mostly turned a blind eye back then, but the new audit confirmed Brink’s findings.

The story said the district will pay another $85,029 in maintenance fees for equipment that was never used, unless the payments are stopped.

The district’s chief technology director, Kyle Davies, told the Startlegram the district had to replace its old system and thought it would be cheaper to buy a suite of software from Tyler rather than purchasing equipment and software separately. So the district didn’t need some of the toys it bought from Tyler. The unused equipment apparently sat like hand-me-down toys in the bottom of the toy box.

Few of the people who were makin’ it rain back in the Johnson years are still around to answer for their mistakes, though Davies was hired just after the board approved the purchase and was on board through the years when the district just kept on paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in maintenance fees on its unused gizmos.

No charge for the history lesson.


  1. Wowwowwowyyyyyy and a HOt Damn to Static for explaining the 2013 Audit at FWISD in plain language. Now let’s get some answers from Judy Needham, the Board President at the time, who wrote a letter to the audit review CPA, saying she had no questions and blessed the audit!

    This board is going to sink FWISD with its lack of fiduciary duty. Ann Sutherland is the only person who can read and understand audit procedures but she cannot have a voice without support from fellow board members. This board needs to “smarten up”. Norm Robbins, if you read this, you might think about your standing with your constituents if you really want to be “that board member for life”.

  2. Kyle Davie lied and should be fired, but Needham protects him like her boy toy.. Just like the rest of the board protected Melody. Where are the Feds? What a waste of taxpayer money! Years later it is still not right! It will never be right! Kyle lied thru his teeth to the reporter at the Startlegram. He was there. What technology director would not be involved in major software implementation? Melody brought him with her from Rhode Island along with Michael Sorum in 2006. Time to clean house!

  3. Funny how that 2.7 million number keeps popping up (Palazzolo’s judgment totals 2.7 million with legal fees). How ironic the gentleman above looks similar to that boob Norm Robbins. How appropriate. What should not be lost on taxpayers is that this is ALL about the BOARD. Needham, Robbins, Jackson, Moss, Sims and even Sutherland have all known about this for YEARS. This happened under MJ who according to Needham was ‘…the best Superintendent in the country”. How many lawsuits has the Board settled or lost to whistleblowers who have tried to tell someone – anyone – of the fraud, bullying, corruption, nepotism, and retaliation that is and remains FWISD. How ironic the head of the Board’s “Audit Committee” sat on this report for months, lied under oath at the Palazzolo trial (FWISD does not retaliate), and then winds up as Board President. Yep. Normy Robbins the pride of Lockheed. Linares testifies she “doesn’t remember” then winds up as Interim Super without even a Board meeting or discussion. Don’t believe the BS the Board is trying to circulate that “Needham doesn’t control the Board any more.” It is business as usual and this is proof. Meanwhile the Palazzolo fiasco drags on and on. When will the Board release to the Public what the total cost in legal fees for just this ONE case has been? Walsh Anderson, Cantey Hanger, Brandt and his cronies, staff legal, hours, copies, hearings, etc. etc. etc. Still not enough is it Judy? Then again, the Board hired former Super Bill Koehler for approx. 5 million didn’t they? And what about Needham’s buddy who was hired as a “coach” at Heights – even though he is not certified and taught no classes.
    Linares is here to maintain status quo. That’s why no one has left – there will be no house cleaning. Board elections are in the Spring – we need a clean sweep of Jackson, Moss, Needham and Sutherland. Even the three new members are a terrible disappointment. Sheep. Until the Board is cleaned out, tax dollars will continue to be wasted.

    • Re recurrent :2.7 number.

      I would imagine that the 6.66 number is used for other FWISD purposes….like hexing the tax payers.

  4. Hard to believe after firing Aracely, the exposure by Betty, even the lawsuit and settlement with Chavez, that these incompetents continue to pay Tyler. I completely agree that the problem is with the BOARD. Ignoring problems will not make them go away. Replace all the Superintendents you want, until you clear out the BOARD and the Administration Building on University, FWISD will not improve. Getting rid of Rangel and Vasquez was a great first step. Now voters need to carry that momentum through with the School Board election in the Spring. Stories about Judy Needham and her deals would fill volumes; Moss has been a one – person employment agency for family and friends; excellent expose’ on Jackson in the CIA Blog; and all I can say about Sutherland is she is inconsistent and unwilling to take a stand. ie: the approx. 200 retire/rehires are still there after almost three years of exposure and promises. It is time for voters to demand change.

    • The legislature passed a new law in 2011 requiring districts to give retire-rehires priority in hires, changing the so-called playing field.

      • Please provide us with the specifics of this law. And we wonder why Texas education is in the shape it is in. You would have done all of us a favor to have mentioned this before. You need to make the Palazzolo thing right.

        • Dr. Sutherland: Two days ago, you posted the above comment claiming Texas School Districts were required by a new 2011 law to give preferences to retirees. I asked you to provide information on that law. You have not. This is what I have found. The Teacher Retirement System website states just the OPPOSITE. It “Requires districts to give hiring preference to certified applicants that are not retirees.”
          Which is it? And how much taxpayer money is the Board spending in daily interest liability to once again appeal a decision they lost – this time before a Judge and Jury – in the Palazzolo case? Why are you silent on this issue and not demanding an end to this?

        • My original reply is still awaiting moderation so I have reposted without the link to TRS:
          Dr. Sutherland: Two days ago, you posted the above comment claiming Texas School Districts were required by a new 2011 law to give preferences to retirees. I asked you to provide information on that law. You have not. This is what I have found. The Teacher Retirement System website states just the OPPOSITE. It “Requires districts to give hiring preference to certified applicants that are not retirees.”
          Which is it? And how much taxpayer money is the Board spending in daily interest liability to once again appeal a decision they lost – this time before a Judge and Jury – in the Palazzolo case? Why are you silent on this issue and not demanding an end to this?

          • Another fine example of how misinformed and screwed up this School Board is. And still they’re appealing Palazzolo’s Jury verdict.

  5. It is unfortunate that the only real and consistent platform that we all have to impart the truth is The Weekly comment section! The Star went from people being allowed to post their opinions freely, to posting opinions and having them deleted or taken down, to identifying you through Facebook. We continue to post anonymously, because the very thing that Dansby and other Supers have contended doesn’t happen at FWISD, in terms of retaliation and bullying, STILL continues to date! At any rate, so many malfeasances continue to surface, as is evident by the Star, albeit really late on the uptake, shows that business goes on as usual at FWISD! People continue to bold face lie, withhold reports from the public and bleed taxpayers, yet no one gets but a mere “slap” on the hand or allowed to resign or retire with ridiculous compensations! The Star continues to moderate the stories they produce (or allowed to produce by this district) and the public continues to live in the dark. Case and point: We are going on the 5th year of the Palazzolo trial and the only thing the Star has written thus far has been laden in inaccuracies. Someone needs to put this old horse out of its misery and buy a new one! One who is willing to report real unbiased news and is not controlled by someone’s evil power and money! As written by the Static, FWISD has been under the justice microscope for years, thankfully spearheaded by the late great, Betty Brink, even to this day! Judy Needham mostly, hated Betty and her reporting on FWISD, because she knew Betty was relentless to unearth the injustices that have plagued this district for years! Needham hated Betty even more, because she supported Joe Palazzolo, by writing the “Atomic Bomb” story about AHHS in her own district. To date, Needham has continued to use her “War Chest” to manipulate and lie, causing the district to pay millions in legal fees to cover up the truth about AHHS (and subsequent schools) and the unjust firing of Joe Palazzolo! Her “blessing” over the audit is typical of her elitist and self-preserving demeanor! One would wonder if she had something to gain over the “blessing”! Don’t be fooled, her “Sweet Gramma” appearance is merely a guise of someone a lot more sinister and calculating. This district continues to live within the web of lawsuits, appeals, waste, fraud, and pardoned criminals, etc., because the person spinning the web has been doing so for 18 long years! This “spider” has always, and will always, run the BOE, FWISD and most of this city’s major revenue entities! Whitey Spidey needs to go before the next Superintendent is found!

  6. Truly disappointed with new board members. They do not know the history or turn a deaf ear when it is spelled out to them! If they did they would have not appealed the Palazzolo case. The message sent to employees is fear. If you report something that is wrong you will be fired. This does not go along with Baldridge.But yet you keep incompetent employees on the payroll who have cost the district millions like Kyle Davis. Then you hire Linares, part of the old regimes of Tocco and Johnson who keeps the status quo of covering up major fiascos. Nothing has changed with new board! They are not meeting their fiduciary responsibility!

  7. Message to the entire FWISD School Board: It is time for the Palazzolo matter to end. You have squandered our tax dollars for over 4 years trying to vilify this man for reporting wrongdoing. Two Superintendents have resigned after failing to succumb to the demands of Judy Needham. Teachers and Police Officers stood by him; a Jury found in his favor after you refused to honor your own settlement offer. It is over. It is time to move on. Someone on this Board must have the leadership and integrity to say so. And Dr. Sutherland, it is not the time to cower and abstain from participation. End it now.

  8. NEW board members are scared and do not have a back bone to do the right thing!
    They are all sell outs!
    Nothing will change.
    New superintendent will receive all this info before making decision to sell out as well.

  9. I wonder how much interest the taxpayers are paying daily on Palazzolo’s judgment while Robbins and the Board play yet MORE games with this latest appeal?

  10. @Amazed: What??? Are you that surprised that Dr. Sutherland has shared misinformation! She has waffled back and forth for the past 4 yrs on almost everything she has been involved with, starting with her involvement with Vasquez and Rangel to rally behind Palazzolo, then to force Johnson out and Dansby in. She has lied about the Feb 14 vote to fire Palazzolo! “Oh the tangled webs she weaves!” She later finds herself alone in the sea of board members, who remember her alliances; they all (BOE) conveniently become “a unified front”! She continues to waffle again and again before and after her Censure! She has no support now, because she is flaky and no one trusts her allegiance. She has the opportunity, basically handed to her on a silver platter, to follow through and stand up and do the right thing before, during and after the recent Palazzolo Trial, especially as she was bullied on the stand by the districts legal team. She had the opportunity to speak up about the Feb 14 firing and she did nothing then too! I have to wonder, Dr. Sutherland, if you are playing with a full deck! You can change things around, especially for Palazzolo, by bringing forth everything you know from day one about the ludicrous bullying and retaliation he and his family have endured for 4 yrs!!! An appeal for a new trial should never be happening, but it is, all to save face and continue to use taxpayer money. I just don’t know anymore, how people can be so calloused and self-absorbed to totally disregard another human being’s livelihood, over lies and injustice. I continue to ask the question: how do you all sleep at night? @ Amazing, don’t hold your breath to hear back from Sutherland about the retire/rehires. She even says on her own blog that she will “get back to you”, but never does! Come on, 2015!!! Mama needs some new blood!

  11. Odd the S-T has the jump on reporting Kyev Tatum’s latest attempt to extort money from the district. They reported he put kids to work with janitor’s in schools despite being told not to. He, of course, says he had a deal to do this and wants $ 70,000. This sounds like the deal he had to duck out on Joe’s trial has gone south now that Walter is gone.

  12. He is the reason the Feds never came to FWISD. After all, how else do you think he got that make believe job at Trimble Tech?

  13. He’s been another leach on the district for years and it’s way past time to get rid of him. Because of him honors classes are a joke. Often there are are more kids in the honors classes that don’t belong there than do all because of his deal w/ Tocco. He’s one of these so called preachers that raise hell over an issue until they get bought off and he’s found the district an easy target. He’ll get the money because it’s easier to buy him off than tell him to kiss bully’s butt.

  14. Tatum is a gold digger, plain and simple! He is a political prostitute, who has sold his silence for monetary gain! When Daddy Warbucks disowned him, he wavered back to the justice seekers and vowed to help them against the district…against Dansby! This is what happened in the case of his bogus attempt of “Helping Hands”. This was a promise to him to not testify in the Palazzolo trial! A get rich quick scheme for Tatum, as is evident with him charging the district $70K, with a mere 10K for him for “administrative costs”!!! The man was asking people for $ for his freaking bail, when he was jailed for not paying child support! Does anyone remember that craziness from Tatum, thinking he was being poisoned! He is an opportunist, who preys on the district in exchange for withheld secrets. They pay him “shut up” money, b/c they know he has a big mouth as long as the price is right! He cares about no one, not even his “black children” of this district. My concern is this, why make those poor kids do the grunt work at the schools that we already have low-to-no education workers working for minimum wage? Why not aspire these kids to higher things? This was Tatum’s way to get $ at the expense of the hard work “his kids” did, with the entitled notion that he would prevail, even if the district said they couldn’t do it, of course there is a sinister reason why, but I’ll save that for commenting on an impending article in the near future! Your reward, Tatum, had strings and you are too stupid and ignorant to believe otherwise. You are the most dangerous person to represent the minority children of this district or city! You need to go away and take your snake oil promises with you. Quit trying to sound like you were caught off guard by this. You know there was money to be had with this district and you have milked it for all its worth. Your ride is over, now that Dansby is out for good. You need to be defrocked from whatever planet ordained you!

  15. Yea, more good news from the S-T and channel 4 news. Blaming Connects, and of course not blaming all the schools that falsified attendance, the district will have to repay to the state between $37-39 million for over payments in attendance. Good old Connects, it just keeps on giving and of course those responsible for it will Never accept any responsibility for saddling the district with that lame jackass. Thanks MJ for all your great work.