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FWISD Names Interim Superintendent Sole Finalist

Walter Dansby receives applause, high praise from trustees

By Scott Gordon and Chris Van Horne
|  Wednesday, Jan 18, 2012  |  Updated 5:58 PM CDT
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Fort Worth ISD trustees unanimously named the interim superintendent the sole candidate for district's school chief.

Scott Gordon, NBC 5 News

Fort Worth ISD trustees unanimously named the interim superintendent the sole candidate for district's school chief.

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The Fort Worth Independent School District on Tuesday named Interim Superintendent Walter Dansby the sole finalist for the permanent job.

The vote by trustees was unanimous, and he received a standing ovation.

"We had plenty of qualified candidates, but none as impressive as Walter Dansby," Trustee Carlos Vasquez said. "This is a new beginning for all of us."

Dansby, a longtime district insider, will replace Melody Johnson, who abruptly resigned in May after a six-year tenure.

Dansby, a Dunbar High School graduate and former high school basketball coach, has worked for the district for 37 years, most recently as deputy superintendent in charge of a multimillion-dollar bond package.

He is the first African-American to head the Fort Worth school district.

Dansby's selection comes after board members interviewed five others for the post. The other names were not released.

Trustees will negotiate a contract with Dansby in the next several weeks before his selection is finalized.

"Mr. Dansby stood out from the other candidates," said board member Christine Moss.

"You have our support until you do something wrong," she said jokingly.

He takes over a district facing budget challenges and struggling to reverse low test scores.

Dansby vowed to turn things around within one year.

"What you have to do is look to see how efficiently you're operating right now," he said. "And that's what we're doing."

Dansby was a past basketball coach at Paschal High School. He said some of his experiences on the court can help when it comes to running the district.

"You've got to have a team effort here," he said. "We here in Fort Worth have to have a singleness and purpose to move this district forward."

After coaching and teaching at Paschal, Dansby became vice principal. He then took over as principal at O.D. Wyatt High School before moving to the district office, where he served in numerous roles.

Dansby is the first superintendent in many years to also have graduated from the district. Dansby attended Dunbar High School and lived in the Stop Six Neighborhood.

“I'd be remiss if I didn't talk about the type of community I grew up in and the teachers that I had, the coaches that I had and my parents and how they cared and took care of me to set the stage for the things that I’m doing today," he said.

Dansby also credits other influences outside of his neighborhood for reaching the success he’s found.

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