Outspoken Fort Worth trustee faces public reprimand

Posted Monday, Jun. 24, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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An outspoken member of the Fort Worth school board faces a public reprimand at Tuesday’s meeting, but the reason for the censure vote is unclear.

School board President Judy Needham said she placed a resolution on censuring Trustee Ann Sutherland on the agenda at the request of other board members. She declined to specify what prompted the move to vote on censuring Sutherland.

Sutherland said she did not know what the impetus was behind the vote, but believes it might be related to the school district’s investigation of former Arlington Heights High School assistant principal Joseph Palazzolo, who recently settled a whistle-blower lawsuit with the district.

In an email to the Star-Telegram Sutherland wrote that “I suspect the motion may deal with Palazzolo,” but she declined to elaborate.

When board members voted to fire Palazzolo in 2010, Sutherland was one of three trustees who opposed the decision.

Sutherland, first elected to the board in 2010, is an outspoken board member who was one of the most vocal critics of former Superintendent Melody Johnson. She has been criticized by her peers in the past for her frequent filing of public-information requests.

Sutherland often comments on education and school district matters on her website and online blog and on news outlets. She represents the board’s District 6, which includes South Hills and Southwest high schools. Her term ends in 2015.

Also Tuesday, trustees are scheduled to conduct a public hearing on the fiscal 2013-14 budget. A draft of the budget presented June 11 called for general fund spending of $644.2 million and $634.7 million in revenue for a shortfall of $9.5 million.

Meanwhile, the board expects to canvass the results of the June 15 runoff election for Districts 1 and 9. Tarrant County elections officials on Saturday conducted a recount in the District 9 race, in which Ashley Paz a political newcomer, came out 23 votes ahead of incumbent Juan Rangel. The results were the same after the recount.

Jacinto Ramos Jr., who won the runoff for the District 1 seat over incumbent Carlos Vasquez, is unable to attend the meeting and asked to be sworn in next month, he said.

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

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