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IN RE DALLAS INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT:

INVESTIGATION REGARDING
ALLEGATIONS OF BOARD POLICY VIOLATIONS BY A TRUSTEE

Presented by:

Paul Coggins
Kip Mendrygal
Brendan Gaffney
Locke Lord LLP
2200 Ross Avenue, Suite 2200
Dallas, Texas 75201

Confidential and

Privile~

Locke
Lord">
Attorneys & Counselors

SCOPE OF INVESTIGATION
The Dallas Independent School District ("Dallas ISD" or the "District") Office of Legal
Services ("Legal Services") engaged Locke Lord LLP (the "Firm") to investigate three written
statements by District employees regarding alleged interactions with Dallas ISD Trustee
Bernadette Nutall. We were asked to determine whether any violations of Dallas ISD Board
policy had occurred. l

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY
As detailed below, we made the following findings:
1.

Regarding the written statement by Tonya Sadler Grayson, we found insufficient

evidence to support a fmding of any Board policy violations by Trustee Nutall.


2.

Regarding the written statement by Officer Freddie Jackson, we made no finding

because Officer Jackson informed us that he was not making an allegation of any Board policy
violations by Trustee Nutall, and asked us not to conduct any investigation or take any action in
connection with his written statement.
3.

Regarding the written statement by Dr. Karon Cofield, we made no finding

because Dr. Cofield informed us that she was not making an allegation of any Board policy
violations by Trustee Nutall, and was not requesting an investigation, but rather wanted us to be
aware of certain interactions with Trustee Nutall that she considered "unprofessional." We
determined that Dr. Cofield's allegations primarily raised governance issues (i.e. the authority of
Trustees to request or direct personnel actions) that are outside the scope of our investigation.

I On January 30,2015, we received from the District more than 2,000 instant messages from or to individuals who
had been interviewed by us. We reviewed the messages but determined either that they did not relate to issues we
were asked to investigate or, ifthey did, we had already covered them in our interviews.

~TTENSTATEMENTBYTONYASADLERGRAYSON

A.

Statement and Interview of Tonya Sadler Grayson

Ms. Grayson is an Executive Director in Dallas lSD's Human Capital Management


("HCM") department, and has been with the District since January 2014. On October 28, 2014,
Legal Services received a letter signed by Ms. Grayson and dated October 22, 2014. Her written
statement is attached to the report as Exhibit "I." We also conducted an interview with Ms.
Grayson to get additional details on the matters raised by her written statement.
During our interview, Ms. Grayson described what she called a "hostile encounter" with
Trustee Nutall during the June 2014 Board meeting. Ms. Grayson alleged that Trustee Nutall
approached her in the hallway outside the Board auditorium and accused her of "treating people
like trash" and warned her to watch her back. During this alleged encounter, Ms. Grayson
learned that Trustee NutaJl was referring to employees who were terminated as part of the
District's recent athletic scandal. After Trustee Lew Blackburn ("Dr. Blackburn") intervened,
Trustee NutaJl allegedly told Ms. Grayson, "You are one of them."
A few hours later, Ms. Grayson, Dr. Blackburn, and Executive Director of Board
Services Denoris Harris ("Harris") were in the executive dining area. Trustee Nutall allegedly
approached the group and told Dr. B1ackbum that she thought he (referring to Dr. Blackburn)
would be wherever Ms. Grayson was, and that Ms. Grayson and Dr. Blackburn must be "doing
sometbing.,,2 Trustee NutaJl then allegedly referred to Ms. Grayson and other HCM employees
as "new news." When Ms. Grayson stated that she did not know what a "new new" was, Trustee
Nutall allegedly stated, "do you know what a Trick is-it's like you."

As Dr. Blackburn

In our interviews, Ms. Grayson and Dr. Blackburn both denied any inappropriate relationship.

attempted to intervene, Trustee Nutall allegedly stated, "You must not hang out in the hood" and
"You ain't black - you are one of Miles' people." When one of Ms. Grayson's employees
entered the room and directed a question towards Ms. Grayson, Trustee Nutall allegedly said,
"Nobody wants to talk to Tonya - you see, Tonya and I don't see eye-to-eye - she ain't one of us
sister girls."
Ms. Grayson alleged that these interactions with Trustee Nutall constituted race
harassment and bullying 3
On November 18, 2014, Ms. Grayson contacted us and stated that, a few days after our
interview with her, she had been contacted by the Office of Professional Responsibility ("aPR")
and notified that she was under investigation in connection with alleged false statements made in
her employment application. Ms. Grayson expressed suspicion about the motive and timing of
the investigation, and asked us to look into aPR's investigation as a possible act of retaliation
against her. We informed Ms. Grayson that we could not consider the new allegation unless it
was put in writing and given to Legal Services. Legal Services would then decide whether to
refer the additional allegation to us, or to handle it in some other manner. As of the date of this
report, to our knowledge, Ms. Grayson has not done so and, thus, we have taken no action with
regard to this allegation.
As a final matter, we asked Ms. Grayson about the timing of her written complaint and
specifically why she had waited until October to raise concerns over an alleged encounter at the
June Board meeting. She stated that she initially had a conversation with Superintendent Miles

3 Ms. Grayson told us that she heard Trustee Nutall had previously assaulted two other District employees, and that
these rumors contributed to her concerns about interacting with Trustee Nutall. We interviewed the two employees
who were allegedly assaulted and whose names had been provided to us by Ms. Grayson. Both informed us that
they had encounters with Trustee Nutall during their time at the District that were aggressive in nature, but neither
alleged they had been assaulted, and neither intended to file complaints regarding the incidents. In her interview,
Trustee Nutall denied ever assaulting a District employee.

about the incident shortly after it occurred, but then she became involved with an investigation
into her background. 4
According to Ms. Grayson, she raised the issue for a second time with Superintendent
Miles in August or September of2014. She stated that she also had a conversation with a friend
who works in the legal department at American Airlines, who explained that Trustees should be
subject to the same rules regarding bullying and harassment as District employees, and
encouraged her to file a written complaint. Ms. Grayson stated that her complaint was made
voluntarily and that no one associated with the District influenced her to put the complaint in
writing and submit it to Legal Services.
B.

Interview of Denoris Harris


We interviewed Mr. Harris about the alleged encounter between Ms. Grayson and

Trustee Nutall at the June Board meeting. Mr. Harris stated that he had been at the meeting, and
recalled being in the dining area, but did not recall witnessing any exchange, heated or otherwise,
between Ms. Grayson and Trustee Nutall.
C.

Interview of Dr. Blackburn


We interviewed Dr. Blackburn about Ms. Grayson's allegations. Dr. Blackburn generally

recalled the June Board meeting and that Trustee Nutall and Ms. Grayson had been engaged in a
"debate" that "might have sounded heated to some people." However, he said that Trustee
Nutall spoke to Ms. Grayson in a similar tone and demeanor that she uses with other employees
and in Board meetings, and nothing he witnessed had been "out of line." Dr. Blackburn did not
recall any interaction between Trustee Nutall and Ms. Grayson in the hallway outside the Board
auditorium, but did recall an exchange between Trustee Nutall and Ms. Grayson in the executive

4 According to Ms. Grayson, HeM personnel conducted an investigation into her employment application during
July 2014, which was months before she was contacted by OPR in November 2014.

dining area.

Dr. Blackburn did not recall Trustee Nutall telling Ms. Grayson that she was

"treating people like trash," that she should "start watching [her] back," that "you're not black,"
that "you're one of Miles' people," or referring to her as a "Trick." He did recall Trustee Nutall
using the term "new new," which he said is a term she uses often to describe employees new to
the District. Dr. Blackburn recalled intervening several times to say "that's enough" because it
became clear to him that Trustee Nutall and Ms. Grayson would not resolve whatever issues they
were debating.
Dr. Blackburn saw the incident as two people having a disagreement, and asswned that
the matter had been forgotten after he intervened. Dr. Blackburn could not recall any interaction
between Trustee Nutall and Ms. Grayson that he considered bullying or race harassment.
D.

Interview of Superintendent Miles


We interviewed Superintendent Miles about his conversations with Ms. Grayson.

Superintendent Miles generally recalled "sometime during the Summer [of 2014)" hearing from
a District employee that Trustee Nutall had an encounter with Ms. Grayson and had used words
to the effect of "you're not black enough" or "you're not a black person." Then, "sometime in
the Fall," Ms. Grayson told him that she had been harassed by Trustee Nutall. He said that he
did not encourage or discourage Ms. Grayson from putting the complaint in writing; rather, he
believes she had already decided to put the complaint in writing by the time she approached him
about the alleged harassment.

Superintendent Miles did not witness, and has no personal

knowledge of any of the alleged encounters between Ms. Grayson and Trustee Nutall.
E.

Interview of Trustee Bernadette Nutall


Finally, we interviewed Trustee Nutall about Ms. Grayson's allegations. Regarding the

June Board meeting, Trustee Nutall recalled only a single conversation with Ms. Grayson in the

dining area, not an additional, prior conversation in the hallway. Regarding the conversation in
the dining area, Trustee Nutall said that Ms. Grayson "got real snappy" with her and that she
"got snappy back with her." Trustee Nutall denied accusing Ms. Grayson of "treating people
like trash." Trustee Nutall said that, in reference to the terminations in the Athletic Department,
she asked why Ms. Grayson was "treating people disrespectfully." Trustee Nutall also denied
telling Ms. Grayson that she needed to "start watching [her] back" or otherwise threatening Ms.
Grayson's job.
Trustee Nutall recalled using the phrase "new new" to describe employees who do not
understand how to treat people properly-specifically, with respect and dignity.

However,

Trustee Nutall denied calling Ms. Grayson a "Trick" or stating that "you must not hang out in the
hood," that "you're not black; you're one of Miles' people," or that "nobody wants to talk to
Tonya ... she ain't one of us sister girls."
Trustee Nutall stated that she has not spoken to Ms. Grayson since this encounter, and
denied ever having an encounter with Ms. Grayson that could be reasonably interpreted as
bullying or harassing.

WRITTEN STATEMENT BY OFFICER FREDDIE JACKSON


On October 29,2014, Legal Services received a written statement dated October 21, 2014
and signed by Officer Freddie Jackson. The statement is attached to this report as Exhibit "2."
Because the statement could be interpreted to involve an act of racial harassment or
discrimination, pursuant to Board policy DIA (LOCAL), Legal Services referred the statement to
us for investigation.

Officer Jackson's written statement recounts an encounter with Trustee Nutall on October
15,2014, two days after she had been removed from Billy Dade Middle School. s According to
the statement, Trustee Nutall asked Officer Jackson why he, "as a black man," did not come to
her aid when she was being physically removed from the school. Officer Jackson responded that
he could not have lawfully interfered. Trustee Nutall stated that she was disappointed with
Officer Jackson for "not coming to the aid of a black woman who was being treated that way."
When we contacted Officer Jackson for an interview, he told us that his written statement
was true and accurate. However, he said that he did not give his written statement to Legal
Services, did not intend for it to be treated as a complaint, and did not want an investigation to be
conducted, or any action to be taken. Officer Jackson stated that he did not believe he had been
bullied or harassed by Trustee Nutall, and that he considers her a friend. Officer Jackson stated
that, shortly after the Dade incident, Superintendent Miles asked him to draft a written statement
for his [the Superintendent's] file.

Officer Jackson complied and gave the statement to

Superintendent Miles.
We also interviewed Superintendent Miles about Officer Jackson's complaint. He stated
that, a day or two after the Dade incident, Officer Jackson came to him and stated that he had had
an uncomfortable face-to-face discussion with Trustee Nutall, in which she criticized Officer
Jackson for his behavior during the Dade incident. Superintendent Miles told Officer Jackson
that, if he felt bullied or harassed, "per Board policy," he should put the complaint in writing.
Superintendent Miles noted that Board policy encourages employees to bring forward legitimate
concerns about harassment, and recalled, in other instances, instructing employees who came to

him with such complaints to put them in writing.

We have not been tasked witb investigating any of the circumstances surrounding the events at Dade on October
13,2014, except those contained in Officer Jackson's statemen!.

Although Officer Jackson made clear that he was not seeking any investigation or other
action, we interviewed Trustee Nutall and gave her a chance to comment on the incident
described in Officer Jackson's written statement. Trustee Nutall objected to the statement that
she was being "loud and disorderly" at Dade. She acknowledged telling Officer Jackson that,
"as a man" and a friend, she felt that he should have intervened instead of watching her be
physically removed from Dade.

WRITTEN STATEMENT BY KARON COFIELD

On October 29, 2014, Legal Services received an unsigned written statement from an
anonymous employee that recounted several encounters with Trustee Nutall. The statement is
attached to this report as Exhibit "3." Legal Services referred the unsigned statement to us for
investigation.
We determined that the statement was prepared by Dr. Karon Cofield ("Dr. Cofield"), the
Assistant Superintendent for Divisions 2, 4 and 5. We conducted an initial interview with Dr.
Cofield, who confmned that the written statement was hers, and that it was true and accurate.
However, Dr. Cofield expressed reservations about submitting a signed document and
participating in an investigation. She stated that she was not making a formal allegation that
Trustee Nutall racially harassed or bullied her, and was not seeking a formal investigation on
these matters; rather, she wanted us to have this information as background material. Because it
was not clear that we could take any action on an anonymous complaint, we gave Dr. Cofield
time to consider whether to sign the written statement.

On or around December 3, 2014, Legal Services received a written statement signed by


Dr. Cofield. The statement is attached to this report as Exhibit "4." We conducted an interview
with Dr. Cofield to explore the matters raised by her written statement.
Dr. Cofield's written statement contains two allegations that, if true, could implicate the
race harassment and discrimination provisions in DIA (LOCAL). First, Trustee Nutall allegedly
told Dr. Cofield that "[Dade Middle School] needs a Black principal." Second, Trustee Nutall
allegedly told one of Dr. Cofield's subordinates during a community meeting that "If your
people would allow some of my people to go to your schools, we would be doing better."
In addition to these allegations, Dr. Cofield described two incidents involving alleged
aggressive or unprofessional behavior by Trustee Nutall. First, when Trustee Nutall had been
requested by Dr. Cofield to participate in the principal selection process, she allegedly said
"Don't know why you're calling me - you're going to do what you want to do anyway, and tell
me what time it is and I will show up." In addition, Dr. Cofield recounted a meeting at Dade
Middle School, where Trustee Nutall unfairly chastised her for failing to return a phone call that
she had returned the prior day.
Finally, Dr. Cofield referenced a number of alleged incidents where Trustee Nutall made
recommendations or demands for certain District employees to be transferred or terminated that
Dr. Cofield thought were out of bounds.
During her interview, Dr. Cofield told us that she was not making a formal allegation that
Trustee Nutall racially harassed or bullied her, and was not seeking a formal investigation on
these matters. Rather, she wanted us to have this information as background material.

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A.

Interview of Superintendent Miles

When we asked Superintendent Miles about Dr. Cofield's written statement, he stated
that he did not have personal knowledge of any of the encounters described in the statement. He
noted that Dr. Cofield had approached him and complained that Trustee Nutall frequently pushed
her to make personnel decisions based on race. He told Dr. Cofield that, if she had a complaint
against Trustee Nutall, she should put it in writing. Superintendent Miles said that Dr. Cofield
told him she was reluctant to say anything bad about Trustee Nutall out of fear of retribution.
Superintendent Miles said that he welcomes input and recommendations from the Trustees on
personnel matters, but he considers demands to be improper if made directly to District
employees, particularly if a Trustee threatens action against the employee if the demand is not
met.
B.

Interview oflsaac Carrier

We asked Mr. Carrier (who is mentioned by name in Dr. Cofield's signed statement)
about whether Trustee Nutall told him that "You need to send that coach back to Skyline" in
reference to an instructional coach. Mr. Carrier generally recalled Trustee Nutall making the
statement, but could not recall the specifics.
We also asked Mr. Carrier if Trustee Nutall ever told him and/or Dr. Cofield that "I'm
gonna get y'all fired." Mr. Carrier recalled Trustee Nutall using words to this effect in the
stairwell at Dade Middle School on October 13, 2014, but understood that Trustee Nutall was
referring to the Dallas ISD "Administration" in general and not to any particular individual. Mr.
Carrier stated that he had never been racially harassed or bullied by Trustee Nutall, either in
connection with the alleged events in this statement or at any other time.

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C.

Interview of Tracie Fraley

We asked Ms. Fraley (who is mentioned by name in Dr. Cofield's signed statement)
about whether Trustee Nutall told her that "If your people would allow some of my people to go
to your schools, we would be doing better." Ms. Fraley did not recall Trustee Nutall making
such a statement.

D.

Interview of Trustee Nutan

We interviewed Trustee Nutall about Dr. Cofield's signed statement.

Trustee Nutall

denied ever advising a former Principal to sue the District.


With regard to Dr. Cofield's allegation that Trustee Nutall once said "Don't know why
you're calling me - you're going to do what you want to do anyway, and tell me what time it is
and I will show up," Trustee Nutall recalled saying something to this effect, but explained that
Dr. Cofield had given her less than 24 hours' notice of a meeting, and that she had insufficient
time to locate the proper people to attend the meeting.
With regard to Dr. Cofield's statement about the alleged "mental grooming" between a
coach and player, Trustee Nutall said that the allegation was false and that she did not know what
"mental grooming" meant. Trustee Nutall stated that she "would never make those allegations"
and denied ever demanding that a coach be fired.
With regard to the allegation that Trustee Nutall commented to a group of people at
Skyline that "I know Mr. Miles has money for this item, because we have money for the Fellows
program," Trustee Nutall described the statement as partially accurate. Trustee Nutall said that
the statement was made to about twenty people and in reference to a water leak on the gym floor.
Her actual words were that "I'm sure we have money for this item because we have money for
many things in the District." Trustee Nutall said she would have emphasized that the District has

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a $1.6 billion dollar budget, and that she was certain the District had money to spend. Trustee
Nutall denied singling out any particular program, such as the Fellows Program.
With regard to Dr. Cofield's allegation that Trustee Nutall chastised her for failing to
return a phone call that had been returned, Trustee Nutall stated that she had researched her
phone records and determined that she did not have any conversation with Dr. Cofield during the
timeframe in question. Trustee Nutall denied any such encounter had taken place, and stated that
she generally does not speak to Dr. Cofield by telephone.
With regard to the allegations that she stated "I'm gonna get all y'all fired," Trustee
Nutall denied this occurred, and noted that she did not have the power to fire any District
employees. Similarly, Trustee Nutall denied telling Isaac Carrier "You need to send that coach
back to Skyline" or telling Dr. Cofield that Dr. Alecia Cobb and Isaac Carrier need to be fired.
Trustee Nutall also denied saying that Dr. Cofield should "Get rid of Dr. Cobb - not the right
person."
Trustee Nutall denied stating, in reference to Dade, that "This school needs a Black
principal." Trustee Nutall recalled that, at a Board meeting, Superintendent Miles said Dade
needed a "male, African-American principal," and that she likely verbally agreed with that
statement.
Finally, Trustee Nutall denied telling Tracie Fraley that "If your people would allow
some of my people to go to your schools, we would be doing better."
Trustee Nutall and her counsel provided us with a written statement and requested that
we attach the statement to our report. A copy of the statement is attached as Exhibit "5."

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RELEVANT DALLAS ISD BOARD POLICIES


Dallas ISD Board Policv
Relevant Excerpt
BBF(LOCAL)
RACIAL,
ETHNIC,
RELIGIOUS,
GENDER,
SEXUAL
Board Members - Ethics
ORIENTATION HARASSMENT PROHIBITED:
Board members shall not engage in conduct constituting racial,
ethnic, religious, gender, or sexual orientation harassment of an
employee or other Board member. Employees or Board members
who believe they have been harassed because of their race, ethnicity,
religion, gender, or sexual orientation are encouraged to come
forward with complaints.
District officials or their agents shall promptly investigate all
complaints of racial, ethnic, religious, gender, or sexual orientation
harassment to detennine behaviors that are prohibited by Title VII of
the Civil Rights Act and reportable to the Office of Civil Rights.
DIA(LEGAL)
Employee WelfareFreedom from
Discrimination,
Harassment, and
Retaliation

HARASSMENT OF EMPLOYEES:
Harassment on the basis of a protected characteristic is a violation of
the federal anti-discrimination laws. The District has an affirmative
duty, under Title VII, to maintain a working environment free of
harassment on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, and national
origin. 42 U.S.C. 2000e, et seq.; 29 CFR 1606.8(a), 1604.11
Harassment violates Title VII if it is sufficiently severe and
pervasive to alter the conditions of employment. Pennsylvania State
Police v. Suders, 542 U.S. 129 (2004)

HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT:
Verbal or physical conduct based on a person's sex, race, color,
religion, or national origin constitutes unlawful harassment when the
conduct:
I.
Has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile,
or offensive working environment;
2.
Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an
individual's work performance; or
3.
Otherwise adversely affects an individual's employment
opportunities.

CORRECTIVE ACTION:
The District is responsible for acts of unlawful harassment by fellow
employees and by nonemployees if the District, its agents, or its

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supervisory employees knew or should have known of the conduct,


unless the District takes immediate and appropriate corrective
action. 29 CFR 1604.1 I(d), (e), 1606.8(d), (e).
When no tangible employment action is taken, the District may raise
the following affirmative defense:
I.
That the District exercised reasonable care to prevent and
promptly correct any harassing behavior; and
2.
That the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of
any preventive or corrective opportunities provided by the employer
or to avoid harm otherwise.

DIA (LOCAL)
Employee WelfareFreedom from
Discrimination,
Harassment, and
Retaliation

PROHIBITED HARASSMENT:
The District prohibits discrimination, including harassment, against
any employee on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national
origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender
expression, genetic information, or any other basis prohibited by
law.

DISCRIMINATION:
Discrimination against an employee is defined as conduct directed at
an employee on the basis of race, color, religion, gender, national
origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender
expression, genetic information, or any other basis prohibited by
law, that adversely affects the employee's employment.

HARASSMENT:
Prohibited harassment of an employee is defined as physical, verbal,
or nonverbal conduct based on an employee's race, color, religion,
gender, national origin, age, disability, sexual orientation, gender
identity, gender expression, genetic information, or any other basis
prohibited by law, when the conduct is so severe, persistent, or
pervasive that the conduct:
1. Has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with the
employee's work performance;
2. Creates an intimidating, threatening, hostile, or offensive work
environment; or
3. Otherwise adversely affects the employee's performance,
environment, or employment opportunities.
Examples of prohibited harassment may include offensive or

15

derogatory language directed at another person's religious beliefs or


practices, accent, skin color, gender identity, or need for workplace
accommodation; threatening or intimidating conduct; offensive
jokes, name-calling, slurs, or rumors; physical aggression or assault;
display of graffiti or printed material promoting racial, ethnic, or
other stereotypes; or other types of aggressive conduct such as theft
or damage to property.

INVESTIGATION OF THE REPORT:


The District shall request a written report from the complainant. If a
report is made orally, the District official shall reduce the report to
written form, and require signed confirmation by the complaining
employee.

Upon receipt or notice of a report, the District official shall determine whether the allegations, if proven, would constitute prohibited
conduct as defmed by this policy. If so, the District official shall
immediately request or undertake an investigation, regardless of
whether a criminal or regulatory investigation regarding the same or
similar allegations is pending.
If appropriate, the District shall promptly take interim action
calculated to prevent prohibited conduct during the course of an
investigation.
When appropriate, the campus principal or supervIsor shall be
involved in or informed of the investigation.
The investigation may consist of personal interviews with the person making the report, the person against whom the report is filed,
and others with knowledge of the circumstances surrounding the
allegations. The investigation may also include analysis of other
information or documents related to the allegations.

DI(LOCAL)
Employee Welfare

PHYSICAL ASSAULTS OR THREATS TO SCHOOL


EMPLOYEES:
The District shall provide every employee with a working
environment free from verbal intimidation, physical assault, and
outside interference. Every precaution shall be taken to ensure that
each employee is afforded the full protection of the legal shield
provided by the District. The Superintendent of Schools shall
establish rules and procedures that define the precautionarv and

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remedial steps to be taken to ensure the protection of District


employees.
DH(LOCAL)
BULLYING DEFINED:
Employee Standards of While acting In the course and scope of their employment,
Conduct
employees shall not engage in bullying. Bullying is a fonn of
workplace aggression, which includes incivility, rudeness, and
discourteous verbal and non-verbal behaviors. The behavior is
unrelated to the employer's legitimate business interests. The intent
of the behavior is to demoralize, intimidate, and/or humiliate a
person or group. Bullying does not include the legitimate exercise
of employee management, including assigning tasks, coaching, and
taking work-related disciplinary actions against an employee.
Board of Trustees
Operating Procedures
(Adopted April 25, 2013)

CONCERNS ABOUT THE PERFORMANCE OF EMPLOYEES


OTHER THAN THE SUPERINTENDENT OF SCHOOLS:
When a Board Member becomes concerned about the perfonnance
of District employees he/she must bring hislher concerns directly to
the Superintendent of Schools and infonn the Board President. Such
concerns may include but are not limited to:
a. Actions which are illegal
b. Violations of Board Policy
c. Actions which are hannful to the District's or Board's reputation
d. Issues of safety
Board Members must remain cognizant that District personnel are
the responsibility of the Superintendent of Schools, not the Board
Members.
The Superintendent of Schools is obligated to listen to such
concerns, review the matter and notify the Board Members of the
resolution of the matter to the extent allowed by policy and law.

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AUTHORITY FOR INVESTIGATION

Trustee Nutall raised a concern about the District's authority to investigate Trustees
regarding alleged Board policy violations.

We believe Trustee Nutall's concern raises two

questions. First, did the District have the ability (or mandate) to conduct an investigation?
Second, was Trustee Nutall required to cooperate with an investigation? Taking the second
question fIrst, we could not identify any authority that would allow us to compel Trustee Nutall
or any Trustee to participate in an investigation; nor do we think the District would have any
such authority if this matter had been investigated internally. Although Dallas ISD employees
can be compelled to participate in an investigation, a Trustee is an elected offIcial, not an
employee. Nonetheless, Trustee Nutall voluntarily submitted to our interviews and cooperated
fully with our investigation.
Regarding the fIrst question, we reviewed Dallas ISD Board policy to determine whether
the District had authority to investigate the subject matters raised by the three written statements.
A.

Race HarassmentIDiscrimination

Because portions of the written statements potentially implicated allegations of race


harassment/discrimination, the District was obligated by DIA (LOCAL) to conduct an
investigation, make fIndings, and issue a written report. Board policy BBF (LOCAL) prohibits
race harassment by Trustees, and policies DIA (LOCAL) and DIA (LEGAL) obligate the District
to maintain a working environment free of race harassment. Thus, it appears that the District not
only has the authority but also the obligation to conduct an investigation into subject matters
covered by DIA (LOCAL), regardless of who had allegedly committed the acts.
However, the obligation of the District to investigate does not entail an obligation by a
Trustee to participate in or cooperate with that investigation. Moreover, Board policy does not

18

identify any sanction if a Trustee or other non-employee violates this policy; nor is it clear that
the District would have the power to impose any such sanction against anon-employee. 6 Thus,
the District may wish to revisit Board policy to determine what, if anything, should trigger an
obligation by a Trustee to participate in an investigation and what, if any, sanctions should be
available should a Trustee be found in violation of Board policy.
B.

Bullying, Non-Race Harassment, and Personnel/Governance Matters

Allegations involving bullying and/or verbal intimidation, as well as acts by a Trustee


that relate to personnel matters (including the transfer and termination of employees) are outside
the scope of DIA (LEGAL) and DIA (LOCAL). The District's anti-bullying policy, found in
DH (LOCAL), prohibits only employees from engaging in bullying, and does not mandate an
investigation into allegations of bullying. However, Board policy DI (LOCAL) requires the
District to "provide every employee with a working environment free from verbal intimidation,
physical assault, and outside interference." It is not clear that this policy applies to Trustees or, if
it did, the nature of available sanctions, if any. Based upon the obligations placed upon the
District and the Superintendent by DI (LOCAL), the District has the authority to investigate
allegations of bullying or other verbal harassment; however, an investigation is not mandatory,
nor does the District have the ability to compel participation in that investigation by a nonemployee, such as a Trustee.
Similarly, although the Board of Trustees Operating Procedures require Trustees to bring
personnel complaints to the Superintendent, and make the Superintendent responsible for
personnel matters, the Operating Procedures do not mandate an investigation into complaints
involving violations of the Operating Procedures, and provide no sanction if a Trustee violates
Depending on the specific harassment/discrimination that occurred, the victim may have a private cause of action
against the perpetrator.

19

them. We found no Board policy requiring the District to provide a working environment free of
personnel complaints made in violation of the Operating Procedures, unless those complaints rise
to the level of verbal intimidation or harassment. Thus, it is not clear that the District has the
authority to investigate a Trustee for complaints involving this subject matter.

FACTUAL FINDINGS
A.

Findings Regarding Written Statement of Tonya Sadler Grayson


The statements allegedly made to Ms. Grayson by Trustee Nutall at the June Board

meeting arguably fall within the race harassment prohibitions of Board Policy DlA (LOCAL).7
Regarding the June Board meeting, we interviewed the two individuals (Mr. Harris and Dr.
Blackburn) who allegedly witnessed the encounter, but neither corroborated Ms. Grayson's
recollection of the alleged statements.

Moreover, Trustee Nutall denied making these

statements. Thus, there is insufficient corroborating evidence to find a violation in connection


with the alleged encounter at the June Board meeting.
Similarly, regarding her allegations of bullying and verbal intimidation by Trustee Nutall
during the June Board meeting, for the reasons stated above, there is insufficient evidence to find
a violation of the anti-bullying policy in Board Policy DH (LOCAL).

B.

Findings Regarding Written Statement of Officer Freddie Jackson


Officer Jackson told us that his written statement was not a complaint, that he did not

intend for it to be submitted to Legal Services, and that he did not want any investigation to be

On or around November 18,2014, Ms. Grayson contacted us to express additional concerns about possible
retaliation in the form of an aPR investigation into her background. We informed her that we could not consider the
new allegation unless she put it in writing and submitted it to Legal Services. In December 2014, Ms. Grayson
contacted us again and expressed her intent to supplement her allegations to include the aPR investigation as a
possible act of retaliation. However, as of the date of this report, she has not to our knowledge supplemented her
allegations.

20

conducted.

He said he created the written statement at Superintendent Miles' request, and

believed it would become part of the Superintendent's file. Officer Jackson stated that he has
never been bullied or racially harassed by Trustee Nutall in connection with the Dade incident or
at any other time, and did not believe any violation of Board policy had occurred.
Thus, we found insufficient evidence to support a violation of any Board policy in
Officer Jackson's written statement.

C.

Findings Regarding Written Statement of Dr. Karon Cofield

Dr. Cofield told us during her interviews that she had several encounters with Trustee
Nutall that she considered to be unprofessional and/or that involved Trustee Nutall giving
personnel directives outside the scope of a Trustee's powers and duties. However, she also told
us that she did not intend for her written statement to be considered a complaint, and denied that
she had been racially harassed or bullied by Trustee Nutall.
Notwithstanding Dr. Cofield's position that her written statement should be viewed solely
as background information, we gave Trustee Nutall the opportunity to respond to her allegations.
Trustee Nutall generally denied making the statements that were attributed to her by Dr.
Cofield. 8 We interviewed Isaac Carrier and Tracie Fraley, both of whom were mentioned in Dr.
Cofield's signed statement. While Mr. Carrier generally recalled the alleged encounters with
Trustee Nutall as described by Dr. Cofield, Ms. Fraley did not corroborate the alleged statement
that Dr. Cofield attributed to Trustee Nutall. Both stated that they had not been bullied and/or
harassed by Trustee Nutall.
Thus, we found insufficient evidence to support a violation of any Board policy in Dr.
Cofield's written statement.

8 To the extent that Trustee Nutall admitted making statements similar to those set forth by Dr. Cofield in her written
statement, see pp.12-13 herein, we do not believe these statements constitute a violation of any Board Policy.

21

Tonya Sadler Grayson


2827 England Parkway
Grand Prairie, Texas 75054

October 22, 2014

Dear Mike Miles,


A few months ago, I briefly mentioned to you one of the hostile encounters I had with Trustee
Nutall. Although all of my interactions with her have been unpleasant because of her false
attacks of me, my experience in June was particularly uncomfortable. Since we haven't made
the time to discuss, I wanted to be sure that at the least I provide you details of this incident.
During the June Board Meeting, I was approached by Trustee Nutall in the hall, outside the
Board Auditorium. She was visibly upset and spoke fast and loudly. It was unexpected, but I
qUickly realized that her anger was towards me. Trustee Nutall continuously accused me of
"treating people like trash". She told me that I was no better than anybody and would probably
not be working at the District long. Trustee Nutall advised me to start watching my back
because people should be treated with dignity, not like I treat them. She went on to say that
most of the folks in HCM don't know whatthey are doing because they are new, like me.
Trustee Nutall spoke continuously as I listened, aIJd finally I asked about the nature ofthe
accusations. She said that I should have let the folks that were fired for recrUiting athletes quit
or retire. She elaborated more by saying they have been with the District longer than me and I
didn't have the right to just fire them. I listened respectfully, but looked around repeatedly for
assistance because I was unsure of Trustee Nutall's intentions. Previously, I heard that Trustee
Nutall hit a DISD executive, and I didn't want to be her next target.
About four minutes expired when Dr. Blackburn intervened and inquired about the nature of
Trustee Nutall's and my conversation. Trustee Nutall informed Dr. Blackburn that she wanted to
know why I was walking around treating people like trash, like I was better than them. Trustee
Nutall then turned to me and requested that I answer the question. I advised Trustee Nutall
that I am a professional and do not treat people like trash. She sighed and stated, "You are one
of them".
A few hours later, I was sitting with Dr. Blackburn and Deno Harris in the "Chief and Executive
Director" dinner area. Trustee Nutall walked into the dinner area and commented to Dr.
Blackburn that she thought he would be wherever I was. She then accused Dr. Blackburn and
me of "doing something". Trustee Nutallsat in the chair directly in front of me and began to
verbally attack me. She stated that she didn't believe that I answered her question earlier as to
why I treated people like trash. Without a pause, Trustee Nutallsaid she also heard I was trying
to get rid of all the people in HCM so I could hire some more "new news". I asked what was a
"new new". Trustee Nutailiooked at me, sighed and responded, "You don't know what a new
new is - do you know what a Trick is - it's like you". 1was very offended by her comments, but
said nothing, out of respect. Dr. Blackburn interjected and suggested that Trustee Nutall calm

down. Trustee Nutall turned to me and said, "You must not hang out in the hood".1 assured her
that I did not "hang out" in the hood. She then made a sound and said, "You ain't black - You
are one of Miles' people".
Trustee Nutall continuously made comments about me being new and stated that I was hungry
for power. As one of my Directors walked in the dinner room, Deno Harris dismissed himself.
Dr. Blackburn started a conversation with my Director, and my employee addressed the
question to me. Trustee NutaJi inserted herself by stating, "Nobody wants to talk to Tonya - You
see, Tonya and I don't see eye-to-eye - She ain't one of us sister girls". Dr. Blackburn suggested
that we all get back to the Board Meeting.
As you can imagine, I never expected to be treated like Trustee NutaJi treated me at the June
Board Meeting. Again, Trustee Nutall has repeatedly made snide, unkind comments to me both
before and after the June Board Meeting; however, I continue to try to avoid her when
possible. I understand as an executive, I must interact professionally with the Board Members,
but it should also be expected that Trustee Nutall would' also be professional at all times.
Again, since we were unable to speak about this situation I want to be sure I share my concerns
with you, in the instance I am verbally or physically attacked by Trustee Nutal!. Honestly, I fear
coming in close contact with her.
As always, I appreciate your support and time. If you have any questions or would like to
discuss further, please let me know. Thanks.
Sincerely,

Q~f.-~~~
Tonya Sadler Grayson
Executive Director - HR Operations

Human Capital Management

REe dYED

OfFICE OF
LEf'.H SERVICES
DA~~.A$ I,S..D.

l011

un 28

PP1 5 12

(l
From: Freddie lJackson, Driver !Security Dallas ISDj::\~-

To: Whom it may concern

Subject: Trustee Brenadette Nutall


Date: 10-21-2014

On Wednesday 10-15-2014 at around 8:30 am, I was asked to meet with Trustee
Nutall concerning an incident that occurred between her and Superintendent
Mike Miles at Billy Dade Middle School earlier in the week. Upon meeting with
the trustee, she wanted to know why, as a black man, I did not come between her
and Mr. Miles to prevent the uniformed Police officers from physically removing
her from the school. I told Mrs. Nutalll could not have interfered with the lawful
duties of the officers without being arrested myself. I also work for the
Superintendent, and was not asked by him to say or do anything to Mrs. Nutall. I
felt that it was not a racial incident and that the action taken was appropriate for
a person who was acting loud Clnd disorderly in a school. Mrs. Nutall went on to
say she was disappointed and had lost some respect for me not coming to the aid
of a black woman, who was being treated that way by anyone, not just police. I
told Trustee Nutall that if the situation had been different, being, if she was being
treated that way by just anyone I would have come to her aid as I would for any
woman. At the time, r thought it was unusual for a Trustee to question an
employee concerning this type of incident. This statement was made by me
voluntarily.

HECEiVEO
OFFICE OF
LEGAl SERVICES
DALUS r.s.. o.

Mr. MFm~, u:'T

INFORMATION

29 Prl 5 12

Several incidents and observations have occurred with Trustee Bernadette Nutall
during my tenure at Dallas Independent School District. Most of those
occurrences have resulted in her attempting to badger and bullying me and my
staff with harassing and racist statements that are in violation of BBF Local (Board
Members Ethics). She continuously involves herself in activities the Board has
delegated to the Superintendent of Schools, particularly related to staffing.
A few instances are shown below:

A former Principal was advised to sue the district by Trustee Nutal!.

During the principal selection process for 2013-14 school year, Trustee
Nutall commented to me when I reached out to her requesting community
participation in the process "Don't know why you're calling me - you're
going to do what you want to do anyway, and tell me what time it is and I
will show up". She had previously been informed by the Chief of Schools
that Trustees were not involved in the process; however, she would bully
her way into the process.

She assumed that "mental grooming" was occurring between a coach and a
player and demanded that the coach be fired. The allegations were based
on gossip in the community that was never confirmed. Her reaction and
demands were not based on fact.

She commented to a group of people regarding an incident at Skyline and


their need for funds to replace/repair something costly at Skyline that "I
know Mr. Miles has money for this item, because we have money for the
Fellows program". This comment does not promote the best interest of
the district.

Recently at Dade M.s. during a 6:30 A.M. meeting with Mr. Miles and the
Dade staff, she did the following:

? Invaded my space, and displayed inappropriate conduct and


character. She chastised me because she stated that I had not
returned her call, when I actually had called her the day
before and spent at least a half-hour or more on the phone
with her, primarily listening to her complaints and criticism on
how wrong we were in our decision-making that she heard
what was occurring at Dade. I felt she was attempting to
bullying me.

? She also stated "This is on you and I'm gonna get all ya'il
fired".

She stated to Executive Director Isaac Carrier, "You need to send that coach
back to Skyline" referring to an Instructional Coach.

Trustee Nutall commented to me this past year that Dr. Alecia Cobb needs
to be removed as well as Isaac Carrier.

Recently due to the Dade restructuring, she told me that both Isaac Carrier
and I should be fired. She made this statement to me over the phone as
well as in person. Last year she also stated "Get rid of Dr. Cobb - Not the
right person 1"

In reference to Dade MS, she also said that "This school needs a Black
principal" .

Last year, during a community meeting, she stated to Executive Director


Tracie Fraley "If your people would allow some of my people to go to your
schools, we would be doing better". This is a racist comment.

Trustee Nutall has treated me and my staff with disrespect and has shown a lack
of integrity and character for matters that I have discussed with her. She
continues to be negative, and shows no respect for our Superintendent, which
disrupts the flow of necessary work in our school district.

Dallas
lnde~ndent

School
District

Mike Miles
Superintendent of Schools

OFFiCE OF
D,':'L.l_i~

S I.S.. D.

Educating All Students For Success

I Information

ZOIY Of 0 J Arl 7 00
Date

December 3, 2014

TO:

Jack Elrod, Dallas ISO General Council

FROM:

Karon H. Cofield, Ph.D., Assistant Superintendent,


School Leadership Division 4

SUBJECT:

Information Concerning Trustee Bernadette Nutall

1)fJL

Several incidents and observations have occurred with Trustee Bemadette Nutall during my
tenure at Dallas Independent School District. Most of those occurrences have resulted in
her attempting to badger and bully me and my staff with harassing and racist statements. It
has been observed that she continuously involves herself in activities the Board has
delegated to the Superintendent of Schools, particularly related to staffing..
A few instances are mentioned below:

A former Principal was advised to sue the district by Trustee Nutall (Former Principal
at Dade).
During the principal selection process for 2013-14 school year, Trustee Nutall
commented to me when I reached out to her requesting community participation for
the process "Don't know why you're calling me - you're going to do what you want to
do anyway, and tell me what time it is and I will show up". She had previously been
informed by the Chief of Schools that Trustees were not involved in the process;
however, she stated she would become a part of the process.
She assumed or heard that "mental grooming" was occurring between a coach and a
player and demanded that the coach be fired. The allegations were based on gossip
in the community. Her demands were not based on fact.
She commented to a group of people regarding an incident at Skyline and their need
for funds to replace/repair something costly at Skyline that "I know Mr. Miles has
This
money for this item, because we have money for the Fellows program".
comment does not promote the best interest of the district.
Recently at Dade M.S. during a 6:30 A.M. meeting with Mr. Miles and the Dade staff,
she did the following:
~ Displayed inappropriate conduct and character. She chastised me
because she stated that I had not returned her call, when I actually
had called her the day before and spent at least a half-hour or more
on the phone with her, primarily listening to her complaints and

3700 Ross Ave.


Dallas. TX 75204
(972) 925-3700
www.dallasisd.org

Independent
Dallas
Mike Miles
Superintendent of Schools

School

District
Educating All Students For Success

I Information

criticism on how wrong we were in our decision-making that she


heard was occurring at Dade. Her communication style is almost
always confrontational.
She also stated "This is on you and I'm gonna get all ya'il fired', you
and Mr. Carrier.

She stated to Executive Director Isaac Carrier, "You need to send that coach back to
Skyline' referring to an Instructional Coach.
Recently due to Dade restructuring, she told me that both Isaac Carrier and I should
be fired. She made this statement to me over the phone as well as in person. Last
year she also stated "Get rid of Dr. Cobb - Not the right person!'
In reference to Dade MS, she also said that "This school needs a Black principal'.
Last year, during a community meeting, she stated to Executive Director Tracie
Fraley "If your people would allow some of my people to go to your schools, we
would be doing better". This is a racist comment.

Trustee Nutall has treated me and my staff with disrespect and has shown a lack of integrity
and character for matters that I have discussed with her. She continues to be negative, and
shows no respect for our Superintendent, which disrupts the flow of necessary work in our
school district.

3700 Ross Ave.


Dallas, TX 75204
(972) 9253700

WW'N.dallasisd.org

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
DISD TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL
TO BE INCLUDED IN ANY REPORT
January 21,2015

Over the past several days, we have been honoring the work and legacy of Dr. Martin
Luther King, Jr. It is poignant that it is at this time that the Dallas Independent School District is
preparing to receive a report about Trustee Bernadette Nutall. Dr. King's message was one of
advocacy, of speaking out for the disenfranchised, the ignored, the disrespected, and the
disheartened. It was a message that, although born out ofracial concerns, extended to economic
disparity, social divisions, and power inequity.

Dr. King's message was an insistence that each ofus use our talents and abilities to move
forward in addressing our social issues. His admonition that "if you can't fly then run, if you
can't run then walk, if you can't walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving
forward" is particularly appropriate for those persons entrusted with the education of our
children. Trustee Nutall understands this responsibility: all she wants to do is move forward in
addressing the educational needs of the 160,000 children in the DallaS Independent School
District.
But there have been attempts to sidetrack Trustee Nutall's work and efforts. And so, this
statement is necessary to be certain that the right questions are being asked. It is needed to be
certain that those questions are not ignored nor dismissed. Many ofthese questions have been
posed by Trustee Nutall with a response that they would be addressed in the "report." Yet, these
questions, at a minimum, must be first answered before a "report" can have any suggestion of
legitimacy. Those questions are:

STATElv1ENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL

Page 1 of7

1)

Authority: What is the authority for a District official(s) to arrange for an

investigation of a duly elected Board Trustee? When District officials take action that could
arguably impugn the integritY of one of its elected officials, they must do so only on the soundest
of footing. When those officials decide to order "an investigation," they have taken position that
they have such sufficient belief that a trustee has done something improper that an outside law

firm should look into the matter. What is the authority of District officials to make that
determination? This question has been posed to representatives ofthe DISD on multiple
occasions. The closest response to an answer was a statement that the question of authority
"would be addressed in the report."
2) Alleged impropriety:
What is the alleged improper conduct that warrants an investigation? What policy or
code of conduct is suggested to have been violated? District officials should be able to point to
specific rules and regulations that they believe may have been violated.
Again, this question was posed to representatives of the District. Again, there was no
answer.
3) Board Operating Procedures:
The DISD Board Operating Procedures sets forth a defiJ;led procedure for any concerns
about a trustee's compliance with Board Procedures. Why weren't those procedures used if
there were any concerns about Trustee Nutall' s actions? Ifthere were questions as to whether
she was inappropriate in her questions to administrative staff or her demeanor in interaction with
DISD personnel, why didn't the Superintendent and/or General Counsel to whom these "written
complaints" were apparently submitted, use these compliance procedures to have these concerns

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETIE NUTALL

Page 2 of7

addressed? What possible purpose existed in hiring a law finn to "conduct an investigation"
rather than follow these procedures?
. Those procedures set forth a primarily confidential and defined graduated approach:

Individual Board Members and/or the Superintendent of


Schools are encouraged to express their concerns about a
Board Member's compliance with Board Operating Procedures
directly with that member, verbally, followed by any written
communication.

If the issue isn't resolved after personal discussions between the


individuals involved, then discussion with the Board President is
appropriate. The Board President shall discuss the concern with
the Board Member in question on behalfofthe individual
concerned, or the President shall moderate a discussion between
those involved.

If the issue still isn't resolved,

the Board President shall place an


item on the next meeting agenda for a Closed/Executive Session
posted as "Deliberation ofDuties ofa Public Officer. "
Alternatively, three Board Members can notifY the Board
President and request the item be placed on the next meeting
agenda.

In Closed/Executive Session, the individuals with the concern


shall state their concern andprovide specific examples to
support that concern and the Board shall discuss the concern.
Among other options to resolve the matter in Closed/Executive
Session, Board Members may encourage the Board Member to
attend specific training related to the Board Operating
Procedures.

Is the difference between the use of these procedures and the hiring of an outside law the
public exposure that will result from hiring that law firm? Is the purpose to intimidate or
embarrass an elected official so a confidential private process would not achieve that purpose?
Questions about the determination to initiate this investigation and to hire an outside law
firm were put to District representatives. Again, these questions were not answered.

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL

Page 3 of?

4) "Investigation" procedures:
Because this "investigation" of Trustee Nutall is unprecedented, there are not any defined
procedures that direct the manner in which it is conducted. In contrast to the well-defined,
graduated process set forth in the Board Operating Procedures, there are not any policies or
procedures to guide the gathering of information.
Trustee NutalI has been told that interviews of the complainants and selected witnesses
were conducted. She was also given the opportunity to meet with the appointed attorney.
But what are the rules governing those interviews? Are they recorded? Under oath?
What are the consequences if it is determined that the persons who authored the "complaints"
were less than totally truthful in their statements? Will they suffer any personnel action for
making false allegations against an elected official? Or is it simply expected that an elected
official must suffer the foul blows as part of the consequence of elected service?
Even more fundamentally, what are the requirements for a "complaint?" One of the
documents forwarded by the Districtofficial was an unsigned, undated written document.
Another document was a written note that gave a description of events but did not voice any
complaint. The third document was a statement authored after Trustee Nutall's removal by
DISD police officers from the Billy Dade Learning Center at the direction of Superintendent
Miles related to an incident that supposedly occurred months earlier.
Where are the procedures for the conduct of this investigation established? Is it required
that the law firm be an "independent" and "impartial" investigator or can there be simultaneous
service as "District Counsel?" Must any written "complaint" allege a violation of a code of
conduct or can it merely be a statement of an interaction? Must the complaint be signed and
dated? Why would a person be given days to decide whether to sign and date her "complaint?"

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL

Page 4 of7

Can the complaint be based upon hearsay information or must it be made based upon personal
knowledge?
What rights and opportunities are accorded the person made the subject of this
investigation? Does Trustee Nutall or her representative have a right to question the supposed
complainants? Any witnesses to the subject incidents?
How can areport be drafted and a result determined before all of the information,
including Trustee Nutall's position, has been obtained with respect to all matters? How can any
conclusion be reached when there was never any definition of the investigative purpose?
All of these procedural questions revolve around this "investigation" because it is
unprecedented. No one has been able to identify another occasion on which the District has
undertaken an "investigation" of a sitting Trustee. Does that inability result because other
officials recognize the impropriety of-such action? Is this "investigation" unprecedented because
the potential for abuse and manipulation which could flow from District officials unilaterally
causing "investiations" of sitting Trustees could threaten the governance of a school district?
5)

Results of the "investigation":

When the decision was made to forego the Board procedures and to instead receive a
written report from an outside law firm serving as District Counsel, what was the anticipated
purpose of that report? The District certainly does not have any authority to sanction or
otherwise issue a penalty upon Trustee Nutall. So what was perceived to be the objective behind
obtaining such a written report? How was it to be used? Would Trustee Nutall be given an
opportunity to review the report? Would the Board of Trustees be provided the report? Was it
hoped that a report might put a focus on relationships between the Board and District officials as
a corollary to the Home Rule debate? Was it an approach to target Trustee Nutall and perhaps

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEEBERNADETTENUTALL

Page 5 of?

subject her to select public comment? Various forms of these questions have been put to District
representatives. And again, there was no answer.
6) Timing:
It cannot be seriously claimed that the decision to forego Board procedures and initiate
this "investigation" is unrelated to the incident between Trustee Nutali and Superintendent Miles
where he instructed District police officers to remove her from the Billy Dade campus. Both the
procedural and substantive components of those "complaints" support such a conclusion. Each of
the two "complaints" was received after that incident. One complaint was held by the
Superintendent's office before it was forwarded to the Legal Offices. The other complaint was
received undated and unsigned. The author was given several days to decide whether she wanted
to date and sign the "complaint."
(Substantively, both "complaints" relate to alleged incidents that had occurred months and
even years before. There is no record of any contemporaneous or timely report of the supposed
distressing incidents. One complaint contains multiple assertions that are based upon conjecture,
rumor, speculation and/or hearsay. Yet, they are not only given credence but are deemed worthy
of "investigation."
7) The allegations:
To respond substantively to allegations is to give them credence. Having to explain
actions in a context that has been created and framed by accusations, gives those allegations an
undeserved power.
Trustee Nutall refutes the accusations by Tonya Grayson and Karon Cofield. She has, in
a spirit of moving forward, cooperated with the appointed law firm rather than publicly

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL

Page 60f7

r.

contesting its legitimacy. She is confident that the impartial witnesses, if interviewed, likewise
refute those statements.
8)

Conclusion:

Trustee NutaIl is well aware of Board procedures and responsibilities. It is to meet those
responsibilities that she has pressed for information. She has demanded equal consideration and
treatment for southern sector schools. This "investigation" does not implicate issues of
governance but rather it is a manifestation of disagreements. It is arguably more reflective of an
organizational lack of respect that is demonstrated by the failure to respond to legitimate
questions and requests but that unfortunately permeates many issues.
1bis "investigation" has been a most regrettable effort to silence her voice, to suppress
her criticism of District officials and to misdirect focus away from the issues that impact the
education of our children. Trustee Nutal1 is, and always will be, committed to the representation
of her constituency and the education of ail children of the District. 1bis ordeal has only
strengthened her resolve and determination. If she cannot run, she will walk. If she cannot walk,
she will crawl. But she will always be working to move forward educational opportunities for
our children.

STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF
TRUSTEE BERNADETTE NUTALL

Page 7 of7