April 10, 2013

Reassigned Trimble Tech principal withdraws grievance against Fort Worth district

Trimble Tech High School students say Joe Dugan talked about strip clubs.

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FORT WORTH -- The former principal at Trimble Technical High School, who was transferred to the school district's athletic department after students complained about inappropriate behavior, has withdrawn a grievance filed against the district.

Joe Dugan was removed as principal at Trimble Tech in December after a district investigation into complaints by eight anonymous students in October.

Dugan has repeatedly denied the allegations.

The district closed an investigation in November without making a determination, saying officials were "unable to substantiate" the allegations, according to a Nov. 9 interoffice memo from Michael Menchaca, director of the district's office of professional standards.

The investigation centered on allegations that Dugan "behaved inappropriately on or about 10/17/12 when he entered a classroom and discussed such things as going to strip clubs and not being invited to student parties as well as looking or staring at a female student's chest," according to the memo. Dugan was also accused of asking a student to record a teacher while she taught a class, the memo said.

Dugan denied the allegations during a Nov. 1 meeting with Menchaca, the memo said, and in a Nov. 5 written statement. In his grievance, he alleged that he had been subjected to harassment, retaliation and intimidation by district officials and requested a hearing so he could clear his name.

Arlington attorney Daniel Ortiz, who said in January that he represents Dugan, did not return several phone calls seeking comment.

The Star-Telegram obtained documents related to the case under the Texas Public Information Act. They include several unsigned handwritten statements from students that refer to an Oct. 17 conversation that mentioned strip clubs.

One statement read: "Another student mentioned a strip club that was called 'Ecstasy' and instead of stepping back, [Dugan] continued and said that he can't go to strip clubs in this county but he can go to other county. He doesn't like Ojos Locos because Tech students work there but he 'loves' Hooters and that made me very uncomfortable."

Statements also said Dugan remarked on a female student's shirt with a Batman logo on the front.

"Mr. Dugan was saying that he can go to a strip club outside the county and he can eat out at Hooters and Ojos Locos, all the places in where you can see a girl half naked," the letter states. "And he look at this girl boobs and tried to play it off by saying 'oh, nice Batman shirt.'"

Dugan, in an emailed statement to Menchaca on Nov. 5, denied making inappropriate comments to the student about her shirt, saying that he was "trying to let her know tactfully that her shirt was not in compliance with the dress code," he wrote.

Jessamy Brown, 817-390-7326

Twitter: @jessamybrown

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