Critical race theory was proven to be a big expense in Fort Worth Independent School District when Texas Scorecard exposed in July that district officials spend $2 million a year of taxpayers’ money on its Equity and Excellence department. Yet, one of the most puzzling money issues is not the large amount of money spent, but the lack of spending reported in invoices.

“I think we need more transparency with Leadership ISD,” said Carlos Turicos, a Fort Worth activist. “This does not look right.”

Leadership ISD is a 501(c)3 nonprofit based out of Dallas. Leadership ISD has made it their mission to “advance educational excellence, opportunity and racial equity in public education.”

The organization conducts racial equity classes for public school teachers and administrators, as well as civic leaders. They also offer R.E.A.L. (racial equity, advocacy, and leadership) academies and trainings with Brave/R, an organization started by Shawn Lassiter, a former FWISD employee and the current chief of equity and innovation for Leadership ISD.

According to the Brave/R website:

Our team is committed to equipping people in becoming anti-racist leaders by increasing their racial consciousness, innovating systems, and building BRAVE/R Spaces in their communities & organizations.

Invoices acquired through open records requests show that FWISD paid Leadership ISD for trainings totaling more than $8,500. Yet, Leadership ISD’s own website shows FWISD has more than 34 employees listed as alumni or fellows for the organization.

The cost to attend a class called “Civic Voices” at Leadership ISD is $1,500, according to one invoice. The invoice includes $500 for “Tarrant County Nonprofit and Administrator Discount,” and it also shows a payment of $500 from an unnamed source, leaving the district with an invoice for $500. FWISD spent more than $2,500 to send five staff members of the Equity and Excellence department to a training by Leadership ISD.

Due to the lack of invoices, it is not clear how the district paid for the majority of employees’ classes. Texas Scorecard requested all contracts with Leadership ISD to determine if there was a set agreement that would explain the lack of charges. The request showed that no contracts exist.

Questions to Leadership ISD about their relationship with Fort Worth ISD were left unanswered.

A current Fort Worth teacher who did not want to be named said, “No one working in FWISD is going to spend their own money for training. If the district wants us to attend, they can pay for it.”

Leadership ISD’s tax information shows they employ at least two people with ties to FWISD: Lassiter, who was also a Democrat candidate for Congress (making $124,000 as the organization’s chief of equity) and Jacinto Ramos Jr. (past board president and current FWISD board member, who makes just over $103,000 as the chief of governance and boards).

Citizens concerned that an outside entity may be influencing the education of their children can decide to speak at the school board meeting on September 28 at 4:00 p.m.

This is a commentary published with the author’s permission. If you wish to submit a commentary to Texas Scorecard, please submit your article to

Emory Martin

Emory Martin is an education policy analyst from North Texas.