FORT WORTH -- Trustees with the Fort Worth school district are likely to name Walter Dansby as interim superintendent next week and approve a separation agreement with outgoing Superintendent Melody Johnson.
A majority of board members have indicated support for naming Dansby, who is currently deputy superintendent, to the interim position at a called meeting Tuesday.
School board President Ray Dickerson acknowledged that having an interim superintendent is necessary because the search for a permanent replacement will likely take a few months, given that Dallas is also looking for a superintendent from a small pool of qualified administrators.
Dickerson said previously that he hoped to have a permanent replacement by the time Johnson's resignation took effect Sept. 19.
"It may take a bit longer than 31/2 months to find a new superintendent," Dickerson said. "So we have to have contingency planning in place and know where we're going."
Trustees are also expected to vote Tuesday on authorizing a superintendent search.
Details of a separation agreement with Johnson have yet to be determined, Dickerson said.
"We will be talking about the whole process," Dickerson said. "My view is that need to come to whatever settlement and arrangement and go forward so there's clarity on who's doing what and focus on the superintendent search."
Some trustees have said they would like to see Johnson leave before September, including her harshest critics, Ann Sutherland and Carlos Vasquez. Johnson, who has been with the district nearly six years, cannot be reassigned to another position in the district without her written consent, according to her contract. On May 19, she announced her intent to resign.
"We can't have an interim and Johnson still on board," Vasquez said. "I thank her for her service, but it's imperative that she close the year off and let us start the year with a new superintendent."
Johnson issued a statement saying she plans to stay until September unless an agreement with the board dictates otherwise. Johnson is expected to have 84 unused vacation, personal and sick days accrued by the end of June. She would be eligible to receive a cash payment for the unused days, which are valued at $115,269.98.
Dansby, who currently oversees the bond program, appears to have support from a majority of the nine-member board, according to informal polling of trustees by the Star-Telegram. He has not said whether he wants the post.
Dansby began his career in Fort Worth 37 years ago as a teacher and coach. He has held various administrative posts but does not have superintendent certification from the state. Dansby said he has completed all coursework for the certification but has not taken the test.
However, the state can grant up to a three-year waiver for the certification, Texas Education Agency spokesman Suzanne Marchman said. For example, former state Education Commissioner James Nelson received the waiver when he later became superintendent of Richardson.
Last week four trustees called for a special meeting as they pushed to name Dansby interim superintendent. But the five other trustees did not show, so the meeting was canceled because the board lacked a quorum.
Some said the lack of quorum was a sign that those absent did not want an African-American as the district's leader.
But Dickerson said it is not a racial issue and he has told Dansby that he supports him being named interim superintendent, which Dansby confirms.
Dickerson said he did not attend Friday's meeting because four trustees indicated that they could not attend because of other conflicts during the holiday weekend.
Eva-Marie Ayala, 817-390-7700