Fort Worth trustees seek modifications in suit settlement

Posted Tuesday, Jun. 18, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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School trustees on Monday approved a settlement reached in court last week with a former Arlington Heights High School assistant principal but are seeking unspecified modifications.

Trustees met with their attorneys behind closed doors for 45 minutes before voting 7-0 on an agreement with Joseph Palazzolo. Trustees Carlos Vasquez and Juan Rangel were absent.

“We have approved the form of settlement agreement proposed by our trial attorneys in conformance with the Rule 11 agreement signed by the parties and await the plaintiff’s signature for the settlement to be binding,” school board President Judy Needham said in a statement.

A Rule 11 agreement is one signed by attorneys and representatives from both sides and filed with the court before they enter into a formal settlement.

Needham declined to specify the modifications the trustees want.

“Mr. Palazzolo believes he has complied with the Rule 11 agreement. It appears Fort Worth ISD wants to negotiate some further language, but Mr. Palazzolo looks forward to returning to his career and a positive working relationship with the district,” said Jason Smith, a Fort Worth attorney representing Palazzolo.

Palazzolo, of Weatherford, filed a whistle-blower lawsuit against the district in July 2012, saying he was fired in retaliation for reporting problems he saw at the high school in 2010. Administrators denied retaliating and said he was fired for lying on his job application and other valid reasons.

Lawyers for Palazzolo and the district agreed to a settlement Wednesday, the day testimony was to begin in the suit in a Wise County courtroom. Under those terms, Palazzolo is to be paid $300,000 and given a two-year contract as an educational logistics administrator, working in the district’s central administration at a salary of about $74,000. Palazzolo agreed to drop the whistle-blower suit and a 2010 lawsuit he filed against the school district in which he said was demoted by being transferred to a job that paid less.

Still outstanding is a 2010 federal complaint over conditions at the campus. A spokesman for the U.S. Education Department’s Office of Civil Rights on Monday said officials are still investigating the complaint over whether school officials discriminated against African-American and Hispanic students in disciplinary action and in opportunities to make up absences.

This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326 Twitter: @jessamybrown

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