It’s the last week of school at O.D. Wyatt High School, and Fort Worth ISD parent Keisha Braziel said the students are missing the man who greets them in the morning and turns the lights out in the evening: Principal Howard Robinson.
Parents, students and staff spoke at the Fort Worth ISD board meeting on Tuesday, May 23, about the fallout of an ongoing investigation into a Facebook post in which a Wyatt counselor called the area where the school is located a “ghetto” and posted photos of a teacher in a fake ankle monitor on “dress like a student day.”
Speakers expressed concern that the principal is not currently on campus, but the counselor who made the post was seen at the school.
Fort Worth ISD administration declined to give details on personnel matters, including about the principal and counselor. The board did not take any action related to the matter, the discussion was part of public comment.
Speaking before the school board during time set aside for public comments, Braziel said Robinson is at every academic and athletic event, he works late and happily greets students. Robinson is the only principal the senior class has known at the campus.
Thursday, May 25 is the last day of school in Fort Worth ISD.
“Their perception is he’s gone because of something the counselor did, and their senior year is being marred by activity adults have done,” Braziel said.
The student body at Wyatt is 56% Hispanic, 37% Black, 4% Asian and 2.7% white and the dress like a student day resulted in teachers wearing bonnets, pajamas, blankets, sagging pants and even a fake ankle monitor.
School counselor Keli Pisano posted photos on Facebook on May 11 with the caption, “Today was an EPIC day at work. If you haven’t been in a high school in the ghetto lately, this is 100% how our students dress.”
She went on to add, “Girls and their hair bonnets…everyone in pajamas, slides, blankets…The first two pics are my fave…one of the coaches are sagging with his grill and Ms. Cook with her Court Ordered Ankle Bracelet. I cannot recall having this much fun at work in forever.”
Trustee Wallace Bridges, who represents District 4, where the school is located, said he’s never been more disappointed and wants an updated employee social media policy.
Kendra Braxton grew up in the Wyatt community and she said she was deeply saddened and concerned about the “ghetto” comment.
“This is offensive to people like me who grew up in this community,” Braxton said. She hopes the district will allow Robinson to come back to campus and not punish him for someone else’s actions.
“Mr. Robinson needs to be reinstated,” Braxton said. “My son, his peers, our kids, we need him.”
Other speakers at the May 23 board meeting said they are concerned about what they call a lack of transparency by the school district.
Kenneth Bowens, who graduated from Wyatt, said “it’s crazy” that no one knows what happened to the principal at the campus and, because the district isn’t being transparent, rumors are flying around about what happened.
Another speaker, Trinna Stidham, questioned why the counselor isn’t being punished.
“We are concerned that Mr. Robinson is being abjectly punished for the acts of another person who was not punished at all,” she said. “O.D. Wyatt seems to be a dumping ground for employees you don’t want to deal with and then he has to deal with them.”
Robert Wood attends church with Pisano, and he said he knows her to be authentic and an effective listener.
She has a heart for people who come from disadvantaged backgrounds and asks for donations from the church to help cover costs for the students, such as prom tickets, he said.
Pisano has previously declined to comment to the Fort Worth Report about the Facebook post.
When Stephanie Bordingham addressed the board, she said she sees the situation as a chance to come together and “revisit how we got to the place for this to happen.”
“It needs our attention as a community, by each trustee and by leaders of our communities,” she said.
Her hope is instead of casting stones, stakeholders will try to find a solution.
“Our students are already under attack in Texas,” she said. “We must stand firm in educating our youth to improve their growth in leadership.”
Kristen Barton is an education reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.