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Fort Worth School Superintendent Resigns

Max Faulkner
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

In a surprise announcement, Fort Worth ISD superintendent Walter Dansby resigned Monday night. The school board accepted the resignation by a 6-3 vote.  The reasons remain unclear.

At least once before in the past few months, Fort Worth trustees met behind closed doors for hours on end. Last night, the back room meeting lasted 4 1/2 hours. Again the topic was the evaluation of Walter Dansby, superintendent since 2012. As he and trustees returned to the open session, at least 100 patient Dansby supporters burst into applause.  

After some silence, trustee Matthew Avila made his motion to accept Dansby’s resignation.

Without offering a reason why, Dansby thanked supporters.

“I leave this position without regrets whatsoever and wish the board, parents, staff, teachers, patrons, and especially the students the best of luck,” he said. “I want to thank each one of you for allowing me to serve in this capacity and serving the school district for 40 years. I’m very grateful for that. I would hope this would not turn into anything that would be very negative or impact the district in a negative way. We are bigger than this.”

Dansby’s resignation is effective June 9. He’ll retire Jan. 31.

Board President Christene Moss called the move a surprise and joined two other trustees to reject the resignation. But they were in the minority.

Longtime friend Dan Puckett, who played under Dansby when he was a basketball coach Dansby decades ago, wasn’t pleased with the Fort Worth school board.

“He could get you to do things you didn’t like doing and make you like doing it,” Puckett said. “I wish we had a school board that wasn’t so dysfunctional. They’re acting like a bunch of toddlers in a sand pit that can’t share the toys. They’re just a bunch of cry-babies and we’re tired of it.”

Dansby mentioned accomplishments he was proud of; a growing early childhood program; schools for STEM and the arts; passage of a bond program. But Fort Worth ISD also stands alone in Texas with the highest percentage of low-performing schools.

Original story from Monday night: The Fort Worth ISD superintendent resigned Monday night, saying it was for the good of the district.

Walter Dansby thanked school officials for allowing him to work in Fort Worth ISD for the past 40 years.

KERA's Bill Zeeble was at Monday night's meeting and reports the board of trustees voted 6-3 to accept Dansby's resignation. 

Dansby, one of the highest-paid superintendents in Texas, became the district’s leader after serving as a teacher, coach, principal, and administrator.

His contract expired in 2016. Dansby will work through June 9, although he will retire in January.

The board gathered shortly after 5 p.m., then immediately entered into an executive session. They met for 4 ½ hours.

Board members thanked Dansby for his service. Dansby said separating and moving forward was the right thing to do.

Board President Christene Moss told the Fort Worth Star-Telegramlast week that some trustees support Dansby but that “there are some issues that needed to be worked out.” She didn’t elaborate on what those issues were.

The newspaper reports he earned a base pay of nearly $339,000. 

The Star-Telegram reports:

Dansby began his third year as superintendent of the 83,000-student district early this year. Since March, the board has repeatedly postponed voting on Dansby’s annual evaluation. Some trustees held him accountable for student progress on test scores. Among districts of similar size, Fort Worth has the highest percentage of low-performing schools in the state, records show. … In a meeting Monday morning with the Star-Telegram’s editorial board, Dansby would not discuss the details of his evaluation, but he said he was determined to stay on as the district’s top educational leader. He requested the meeting with the editorial board, he said, to discuss the district’s performance on the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) tests. “Those are the things I am concerned with,’’ he said of the student test scores. “I can work with anybody, so I just look forward to continuing the work that we’re doing right now.” Asked whether the board’s inaction on his evaluation and contract to that point could be viewed as a vote of no confidence, the superintendent said he could withstand any challenge. Over the 40 years of his time with the district, he said, he has made improvements in every task he’s been given. “We’re basing things on something that happened over last year’s data,” he said. “Look at the growth this year. That’s all I can say.”

Photo credit: Max Faulkner/Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.
Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.