Fort Worth school board again adjourns without vote on Dansby

04/22/2014 10:27 PM

04/22/2014 10:53 PM

After more than two months considering the annual evaluation of Superintendent Walter Dansby, the Fort Worth school board adjourned again Tuesday night without voting on whether to give him a bonus and a contract extension.

Dansby’s contract expires in August 2016. Under the contract terms, he automatically receives a $10,000 bonus if he gets a satisfactory evaluation.

Trustees began working on Dansby’s evaluation Feb. 18. A few weeks later, when the board was expected to vote on the bonus and extension, it tabled a decision after a five-hour closed-door session.

On Tuesday night, board members spent more than two hours behind closed doors. They adjourned about 9:40 p.m. with no public mention of Dansby’s contract.

The board did vote unanimously not to renew a contract with a teacher, board President Christene Moss said.

Moss said she couldn’t discuss any aspect of Dansby’s evaluation because it is a personnel matter.

“I don’t know if it’s going to be a vote,” Moss said after the meeting. “We are just in discussions right now.”

The delays have led to increasing speculation about whether Dansby has the support of all nine board members.

Some community leaders and principals have spoken out at recent meetings, urging the board to support the superintendent. But one person spoke out against Dansby at a recent board meeting, saying the district is mismanaged and needs to improve its public accountability.

Other people are concerned about the outcome of a lawsuit directed at Dansby. He is being sued by Joseph Palazzolo, a former high school assistant principal who says Dansby taped a closed-door meeting in which Palazzolo was discussed. The tape was later made public.

Palazzolo recently won a $2.4 million verdict in a different lawsuit against the school district involving accusations of grade tampering and staff misconduct at Arlington Heights High School.

Dansby is beginning his third year leading the district. He lists passage of a $490 million bond package and new programs for children among his key accomplishments.

With base pay of $338,817.60, which excludes fringe and health benefits, he is one of the highest-paid superintendents in the state and among the highest-paid public officials in Tarrant County.

Several board members have said that they are not satisfied with the district’s academic performance on the state’s accountability system.

Among districts of similar size, Fort Worth has the highest percentage of low-performing schools in the state.

The number of low-performing schools in the district climbed to 38 from 23 last year, according to the Texas Education Agency’s list of Public Education Grant Schools for 2014-15.

Dansby, 63, grew up in the Stop Six area, got his diploma from Dunbar High School, a bachelor’s degree from the University of Texas at Arlington and a master’s degree from Tarleton State University. He joined the district as a teacher and coach at Rosemont Middle School in 1974. He was principal of O.D. Wyatt High School until he was promoted to area dean of instruction, and he continued to rise through the administrative ranks, overseeing instruction, athletics, student affairs and maintenance.

“The fact is that I’ve been here for 40 years,” he has said. “I’ve been in FWISD all my life.”

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