Fort Worth school board dismisses teacher’s whistleblower complaint over safety course

Fort Worth school board members voted unanimously to uphold a previous decision to dismiss a teacher’s whistleblower complaint over allegations that a safety course brought bonuses to the district and prevented minority students from pursuing advanced career options.

However, the board also asked superintendent Angelica Ramsey to review the teacher’s concerns.

The vote to dismiss Barton Scott’s grievance because it was “untimely” came at almost 1 a.m. Wednesday following an executive session that lasted for almost four and a half hours.

Scott, who is the department head of Career and Technical Education at the Young Men’s Leadership Academy, said his grievance hearing was held during the executive session.

He said he did not agree with the decision to dismiss his complaint.

“I think it sends the message that we can fire consultants, waste money and exploit students with no accountability,” he wrote in a text. “Having said that I told them my focus is and had always been doing what is BEST for kids and if that happens I am good.”

Scott said he is looking forward to meeting with Ramsey to work on solutions for helping students.

During the board meeting, several people in the audience spoke in support of Scott.

Valeria Nevarez questioned why students of color were not being pushed to look at higher career goals.

“It is so sad telling students taking OSHA30 that the most they can expect is to get construction jobs. Why aren’t we pushing them to get higher careers,” she said.

The grievance, which was filed in September, alleged that the school district was requiring students to take a 30-hour occupational safety course that was meant for managers at work sites. The district then received bonuses for students’ achievements as part of a Texas Education Agency program.

Scott told the Star-Telegram previously that the district is “funneling at-risk children into low skill jobs rather than steering them toward higher paying careers.”

District officials denied Scott’s accusations. They said the OSHA course was optional and was offered because students could earn certificates online as COVID-19 caused disruptions in learning.

Scott alleged that during the pandemic, some seniors weren’t able to complete their capstone projects which included business models and designing equipment to help people who use wheelchairs.

District officials said the OSHA course was offered as an option for schools during COVID after principals expressed concerns about students graduating without certifications.