Mystery surrounds resignation of Fort Worth schools chief

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by DAVID SCHECHTER

Bio | Email | Follow: @davidschechter

WFAA

Posted on June 3, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jun 3 at 5:50 PM

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FORT WORTH — The Fort Worth Independent School District will pay ousted Superintendent Walter Dansby $662,398 to leave his job with two years left on his contract.

Dansby voluntarily resigned his position Monday night after a four-hour, closed-door session with the district's Board of Trustees.

The agreement, released today by Fort Worth ISD, pays Dansby a lump sum of $306,000 plus an additional year's salary and benefits worth $356,398.

Dansby will also continue to be employed by the district through January 31 of next year, collecting a salary of about $185 an hour as the "ambassador of public relations," a newly-created position with no known job description.

That brings his overall financial package to about $900,000.

On his way out the door Monday night, Dansby’s comments only added to the mystery.

“I worked for this district for 40 years, and I’m looking forward to retiring,” he said.

But with two years left on his contract, few here believe he actually "retired," but was, more likely, forced out by the school board.

Dansby was the first African-American to hold the district's top job, and his supporters — like activist Rev. Kyev Tatum — say racism played a big role in what just happened.

“It hurts. It’s frustrating,” Tatum said, adding that Dansby could ruffle feathers with his football coach-like toughness. But Tatum believes it was racism and not personality that led to Dansby’s ouster.

"You have principals and teachers who are unwilling to make the cultural shift in order to produce better outcomes in our children of color,” Tatum said.

The number of under-performing schools in the district is up more than 60 percent year-to-year. Tatum said Dansby needed more time to turn around the complicated problems of an urban district.

By most accounts, Walter Dansby was well-liked by many in the district, including Steven Poole of the United Educators Union.

“It’s going to be big shoes to fill,” he said.

Earlier on Monday, Dansby spoke to the editorial board of our media partner, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, and told them about his plans for the future. Then, a few hours later he resigned.

It’s obvious Dansby's relationship with the board was broken, but it may never be known exactly what happened — or why.

E-mail dschechter@wfaa.com

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