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What Really Is Behind Texas Employment Case?

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Arlington, TXA school assistant principal in Texas who exposed alleged wrongdoing in the school that employed him may wind up losing his job due to nondisclosure of his own past that included criminal citations, according to a recent United Press International (UPI) report. The situation has roiled into a Texas Employment case that will surely prove to be a test for Texas Labor Law.

A UPI report dated 10.07.10 relates the story of Joseph Palazzolo, an assistant principal with Arlington Heights High School currently on paid suspension. Palazzolo told UPI that administrators with the school board that has jurisdiction for Arlington High are recommending he be dismissed from his job because Palazzolo, it is alleged, failed to disclose his criminal history when he applied for his job in 2007.

That criminal history, according to the UPI report, includes a guilty plea to a federal misdemeanor charge in 1997 for failure to pay past-due child support, according to court records cited by the Star-Telegram newspaper of Forth Worth.

Palazzolo is also reported to have received a deferred sentence in 1988 after pleading guilty to misdemeanor charges for hiring an employee with a lapsed license at a security company he operated at the time.

An attorney representing Palazzolo in the Texas employment law case indicated that Palazzolo understood when he applied for his position that he was required to provide information only if he had been convicted of a felony offense. The district's current employment application, according to the UPI and Star-Telegram reports, requires applicants to include information only if they were "convicted, fined, placed on probation, placed on parole, given a suspended sentence, given deferred adjudication...in connection with any violation of law (misdemeanor or felony), regardless of any subsequent court dismissal, sealing or expungement."

It was not clear if such wording existed when Palazzolo applied for his job three years ago.

For his part, Palazzolo said that in his view the campaign to have him terminated from his Texas labor and employment was borne from his efforts to blow the whistle on alleged wrongdoings.

"The Fort Worth Independent School District has taken this action against me in retaliation for reporting violations of law that included the falsifying of student attendance records; the disparate treatment of students based on race; the illegal use of booster club funds; the inappropriate conduct of school officials with students...all with the knowledge of senior district officials," Palazzolo said.

The district and the state agency responsible for public education completed an investigation into the Arlington Heights High School after Palazzolo's complaint, but its findings were not disclosed, according to Superintendent Melody Johnson in comments to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

It is not clear how this Texas labor and employment law case will wind up.

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