DALLAS – The Dallas School Board has directed its attorney to investigate allegations the district’s teachers’ and classified employees’ unions brought against Superintendent Michelle Johnstone.
The allegations were outlined in a letter from the Dallas Education Association, the teachers’ union, and a petition from classified employees’ union, Oregon School Employees Association. The DEA letter states that 77 percent of its members approved a vote of “no confidence” in Johnstone. OSEA’s petition said that a majority signed it to request the board’s assistance “in re-establishing a safe and professional work environment.”
Board Chairman Matt Posey sent a letter to all district staff members on Friday afternoon outlining the investigation process. It included a brief statement by the district’s attorney regarding one of DEA’s allegations.
“The board has chosen its legal counsel, Paul Dakopolos, to conduct an investigation into the allegations that were made by both letters presented from each association,” Posey wrote. “This investigation will likely begin early next week.”
Dakopolos wrote in an email to Posey that he would provide more details on how the investigation will be conducted, but stated one DEA allegation was false. The allegation involved a special education due process complaint filed in January 2017. An administrative law judge ruled against the district on several aspects of the complaint in April 2018.
“The letter from the Dallas Education Association states in the first bullet point: ‘Against the advice of the District’s legal counsel, Superintendent Johnstone pushed a lawsuit into litigation that cost the District about $450,000 more than if the advice was followed.’”
Dakopolos’ said his firm represented the district in the due process claim during the mediation process.
“The parties signed a confidentiality agreement relating to all conversations during the mediation,” Dakopolos wrote. “Therefore, I am unable to discuss the substance of settlement discussions. I can say that this allegation in DEA’s letter is completely false. I will not spend any more time addressing this false allegation or investigating it.”
Posey asked staff members for patience while Dakopolos conducts the investigation.
“I want to assure you that I and the other board members take these allegations very serious and it is our intent with this investigation that we get to the bottom of each point that was brought forward,” Posey wrote. “At the end we are looking for the truth, and will do what’s best for the Dallas School District.”
For more on this story, see the June 5 I-O.