Athletics Scandal Roils Dallas Schools

           DALLAS (CN) – A top official in Dallas schools was fired in retaliation for reporting an embarrassing athletic recruiting scandal that resulted in the mass firing of athletic officials, the woman claims in court.
     Anita Connally, of Waxahachie, sued the Dallas Independent School District Wednesday in Dallas County Court.
     Connally, formerly compliance director for DISD, claims the district launched an investigation after she reported at least four instances of forged eligibility records put together by coaches and school district officials.
     The investigation culminated in Superintendent Mike Miles cleaning house on June 6, firing 15 coaches and district officials.
     Connally says she was among those fired, and that she got the ax “in retaliation for her good faith reports of violations of state law, district policy and [University Interscholastic League] policy.”
     As Texas’ administrator of interschool athletics, the UIL allows student athletes to play only for the school designated for their place of residence.
     Connally says that when she began attending DISD executive committee meetings in 2013 and the matter of transferred students came up, “coaches and voting members” of the committee “appeared trained” to vote in favor of athletic eligibility “so that their own future self-interests were served.”
     “Coaches would not question one another’s sham eligibility documents in good faith, lest their own player be ineligible based on flimsy documentation at the next meeting,” the 11-page complaint states.
     “Connally asked questions and pointed out inconsistencies and impossibilities in documents presented to the DEC [District Executive Committee], but was not a voting member of the committee and had no enforcement authority.”
     Connally says that in September 2013, a coach at Madison High School and parent appeared before the committee, requesting to play at the school. She says that a one-month lease and supposed home visit conducted by three coaches “seemed to be inadequate if not fraudulent.”
     Connally says she learned from county appraisal records that the coach still owned a home in DeSoto – outside of the district – and that she reported the suspicions of fraud.
     She says she reported similar suspicions in April this year regarding Wilmer Hutchins High School star basketball player Troy Causey, who she believed submitted forms falsified by his coaches.
     Connally’s report came one month after Causey’s beating death at a home in nearby Wilmer, which he shared with star Madison player Johnathan Turner, who has since been charged with murder.
     Connally says she filed a similar report about Turner’s eligibility in May, accusing his coaches of failing to “take care” of incomplete eligibility documents.
     She says her reports set off the investigation of 11 district employees and coaches at Madison and Wilmer and that the investigation concluded that coaches and teachers participated in forgery and falsifying of records.
     “Nowhere in the eleven investigations does the district allege any wrongdoing, mistake, insubordination, or fraud on the part of Connally,” the complaint states. “Indeed, Connally is noted to have made the reports giving rise to the investigation. Connally worked side-by-side with the PSO [Professional Standards Office] during the investigation and was never accused of any wrongdoing.”
     Connally says she was told she was fired for “failure to follow directives” and “lack of management oversight.”
     But she claims the district was unable to identify a “single instance” either violation during her administrative exhaustion process.
     Connally claims she was fired in the district’s attempt to “save face” in the wake of media scrutiny. She says Miles told the media on June 6 the scandal was “unacceptable” and would not be “tolerated,” that investigation into the district athletic department would continue.
     “Yet, to this day the district has been unable to identify a single instance of wrongdoing, or failure of oversight, on the part of Connally,” the complaint states.
     DISD spokesman André Riley said the school district does not comment on pending litigation.

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