Former Fort Worth principal is under investigation

Posted Friday, Feb. 01, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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FORT WORTH -- Fort Worth school officials are investigating allegations that a former principal at Trimble Technical High School made improper statements to students.

In a letter to Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott dated Jan. 28, district officials wrote that they were investigating "claims of improper communications and statements, including statements that might constitute sexual harassment, to district students made by Joe Dugan."

The district's San Antonio attorneys are asking Abbott's office to withhold release of some documents related to the case requested by the Star-Telegram under the Texas Public Information Act.

Dugan, 43, was removed from his post in December. He filed an employee grievance against the district Jan. 17, saying he was demoted by being transferred to the school district's athletic department. Dugan is asking to be reinstated to his job as principal.

School district officials declined to comment Thursday, citing confidentiality of personnel matters. Trustee Juan Rangel, whose district includes Trimble Tech, also declined to comment.

Three allegations are outlined in a November 2012 email Dugan wrote to Michael Menchaca, director of the school district's office of professional standards. The document was obtained by the Star-Telegram under the Public Information Act.

The records indicate that Menchaca asked Dugan to respond in writing to allegations that Dugan made "inappropriate comments to a female student about her shirt," asked students to record audio during class and talked to students about strip clubs, according to Dugan's email.

Dugan denied making inappropriate comments to the girl. He said he noticed her shirt while he was observing a teacher's class because it did not comply with the dress code.

"I did not want to call the student out in front of her classmates. I was concerned about embarrassing her. Therefore, I recall telling her, 'Batman, okay, I like Batman.' I was trying to let her know tactfully that her shirt was not in compliance with the dress code," Dugan wrote.

Dugan said he did not ask a student to record a classroom and asked for more information about that assertion. He also denied talking to students about strip clubs. He said alumni from another high school were at Trimble Tech and were having a conversation about strip clubs and he asked them to stop.

Arlington attorney Daniel A. Ortiz, who is representing Dugan, declined to comment Thursday and said his client does not want to be interviewed.

"Mr. Dugan denies any allegation of inappropriate activity and or comments," Ortiz said.

In the grievance, Dugan said he was reassigned to a position as assistant athletic director but functions as an administrative assistant.

Dugan wrote that the reassignment stems from an effort to undermine him and his reputation. He wants the district to hold a "name cleaning hearing."

"Mr. Dugan has been the subject of an ongoing, increasingly hostile and intense course of harassment, retaliation, discrimination, intimidation and scrutiny by certain member(s) of the Fort Worth ISD administration," according to the grievance.

Dugan was assistant principal at Trimble Tech from June 2008 to August 2011, when he became interim principal. He was appointed to the post permanently in June 2012.

Dugan was told by Superintendent Walter Dansby on Dec. 21, 2012, that he would be transferred from his job to a post in the school district's athletic department Jan. 7, according to the grievance.

Former Principal E. Omar Ramos, now an administrator, has been reassigned to lead the campus.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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