Dallas County Schools Board Member, Former President, Larry Duncan Resigns

As board president, Duncan accepted more than $200K in campaign contributions from vendor

Former Dallas County Schools Board President and current trustee Larry Duncan has resigned his board position more than three years before it was to expire.

Duncan, was not present during Tuesday's board meeting, but the agency released a copy of a one sentence resignation letter dated Oct. 13.

In it Duncan writes, "I resign from my position of Dallas County Schools Board of Trustees, At-Large, effective immediately."

The board accepted Duncan's resignation at Tuesday's meeting. Afterward, Duncan released what he said would be his only statement on the issue:

"This is the most difficult decision I have ever made in my public life. My hope and prayer is that my departure from the board will help this organization preserve its mission and protect its people. Parents and taxpayers need to know that changes have happened here. It’s critically important that voters know to Vote Yes on the November ballot.”

Under his leadership DCS launched the controversial stop arm camera venture that lost millions of dollars -- putting the agency in deep financial trouble.

Rick Sorrells, former DCS superintendent forced to retire earlier this year amidst questions about the finances at DCS and just days after influential Texas Sen. Royce West (D-Dallas) called for Sorrells’ resignation. Sorrells remains on the DCS payroll through the end of the year under an exit deal he negotiated with DCS.

Robert Leonard, CEO of Force Multiplier Solutions, a company that has collected tens of millions of dollars from DCS contracts related to a school bus safety camera program. Leonard’s company was founded in Louisiana and later moved its headquarters to Dallas.

He led the beleaguered agency for more than a decade and had served on the board since 2003. He announced May 17 he was not seeking reelection as president and stepped aside from that post amid ongoing questions about a multi-million dollar budget gap, the agency's controversial stop-arm camera program and a sale-leaseback land deal that will cost taxpayers millions.

In February, NBC 5 Investigates revealed Duncan, when president, accepted $245,000 in campaign contributions from people associated with Force Mulitplier Solutions, a vendor DCS partnered with on the bus camera program that lost millions of dollars of public money. Duncan insisted the contributions he received from associates of Force Multiplier Solutions did not affect his judgment and that "all of the rules and the ethics and standards of the state election code have been adhered to."

Sources at DCS told NBC 5 Investigates that Duncan faced increasing pressure from some DCS employees including bus drivers who believed Duncan must resign. At recent DCS board meetings two drivers spoke out publicly calling for Duncan to step down.

DCS faces a live or die referendum vote on Nov. 7, when Dallas County taxpayers can decide whether to shut the agency down. Some drivers have said they believed Duncan must leave in order to convince taxpayers the agency has changed and deserves a second chance.

Former DCS Superintendent Rick Sorrells, who retired in March under pressure from the DCS Board said he didn't know about the contributions to Duncan and that he directed staff to create a new policy that requires board members to recuse themselves from voting on any item where they received campaign or office-holder contributions exceeding $500 in that calendar year. Duncan’s fellow board members also said at the time they were unaware of the size of the contributions he received from one vendor.

After Duncan stepped down last spring, the board voted to elect at-large trustee Gloria Levario the president.

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