A former Fort Worth ISD administrator sued the district, went to trial, and the jury awarded him a multi-million dollar verdict. He also has another lawsuit pending against outgoing Superintendent Walter Dansby.
Some speculate the cases are tied to Dansby's resignation, but the school district says that’s not true.
It was at a school board meeting, but behind closed doors, where a former assistant principal claims the superintendent and other trustees made disparaging remarks about him.
"The statements that were made about Mr. Palazzolo in that board meeting that were publically disclosed are so horrific that I'm not going to repeat them today,” said Victoria Neave, Joseph Palazzolo’s attorney.
Palazzolo, who worked at Arlington Heights High, stood with his attorneys on Thursday but didn’t speak.
In his lawsuit, he claims Dansby ordered microphones to be placed in that closed door session and that defamatory remarks ended up online.
The lawsuit is still unresolved, but Palazzolo was recently awarded $2.7 million in a separate whistleblower case he brought against the district involving a scheme to falsify student attendance records.
“There were students who had 30, 40, 50, 60 absences at school, and those absences were fraudulently deleted,” said Neave.
Palazzolo's attorneys claim Superintendent Dansby's resignation is tied to these legal battles, but the district denies that.
“There is no truth to the suggestion that this lawsuit has anything to do with Mr. Dansby's departure,” Fort Worth ISD said in a statement. “The lawsuit is far from over. We believe the jury got it wrong because they didn't hear all of the evidence. If the jury had heard all of the evidence, we are confident they would have decided in favor of the Fort Worth ISD.”
The district says it will appeal and seek a new trial. Palazzolo's attorneys say that's a waste of time and more.
"We urge Fort Worth ISD taxpayers to put a stop to this and stop wasting taxpayer money on additional attorney’s fees to defend a case that you're losing,” said Neave.
While Fort Worth ISD says it is seeking a new trial, the attorneys for Palazzolo are saying the district is accruing interest on that $2.7 million settlement each day it goes unpaid.
KDFW FOX 4 400 N. Griffin Street Dallas, Texas 75202
Main Station Directory: (214) 720-4444 News Fax: (214) 720-3263 or (214) 720-3333