When Principal Howard Robinson returned to O.D. Wyatt High School on May 26, staff lined up in the hallway and played the song “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton, which is the theme song of his Black fraternity.
People were dancing to the lyrics “Dog of the world unite Dancin’ dogs, yeah, countin’ dogs,” celebrating and crying with Robinson, happy to have their leader back on campus, special education teaching assistant Keisha Braziel said.
Robinson was off campus for a period of time during an investigation by Fort Worth ISD into a Facebook post made by counselor Keli Pisano calling the campus “ghetto.” Fort Worth ISD school board trustee Wallace Bridges said he can confirm Robinson is back on campus, but did not share other details of the ongoing investigation.
The “ghetto” post was about a campus “dress-like-a-student” day. Teachers and staff wore pajamas, blankets, bonnets and one even wore a fake ankle monitor. The majority of the campus student population is students of color.
Parents, staff, alumni and community members attended the Fort Worth ISD school board meeting asking for Robinson’s return to campus, claiming he was unfairly punished.
That the community came together and resolved an issue together is a positive, Bridges said, and he hopes to see more of that solutions-oriented collaboration in the future.
“Yes, hold me accountable,” he said. “But I’m going to hold you accountable because there’s a level of expectation that I need from you as a parent or guardian or community person — all of us. This job is big enough for everybody to take up space. But that’s going to require us to have some honest conversations as we move forward. And that same energy that we brought to this situation, I want to see that same energy.”
Additionally, Bridges said he wants to see policy change regarding staff social media guidelines. The board is still working on those discussions, he said.
Before returning, Robinson posted a letter from himself to the campus community on the school’s Facebook page, saying he will “assume full responsibility for the oversight made when I posted photos on our school’s Facebook Page without conducting a proper review. The intent was not to demean or mock our students at Wyatt Nation. The intent was to create a positive culture and climate during Teacher Appreciation Week.”
The Fort Worth Report left messages with Robinson, but he did not return calls by deadline.
The day itself isn’t the problem, and the staff dressing as it did wasn’t the biggest issue for Braziel, she said. The students thought it was fun and made TikTok videos about it.
She knows people tried to spin the post into mocking the students, but Braziel said she knows the campus culture and it was a fun day. Earlier that week, students showed up in bow ties to dress like Robinson.
And Braziel does know there’s a dress-code problem at the school, and it’s something the campus is trying to address. The outrage was over the counselor calling the school “ghetto,” she said.
“That’s a bad representation of the school,” she said. “Because ghetto has a bad connotation.”
The campus is a C-rated school, which means it’s an average performing campus, Braziel said. It has an early college high school, allowing students to get college credits before graduation. Braziel wants these factors to be what people think about when they discuss Wyatt.
Braziel believes the district isn’t being transparent about what happened on the campus and why their principal wasn’t there, Braziel said. She believes employees should have been informed.
“As a district, we’ve got to stop doing these things; operating and worrying about PR and worry about the students that we represent,” Braziel said. “If they don’t come to school, we don’t get paid. So they’re our customers, so we just have to do a better job of treating our customers well.”
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.