Dallas ISD Trustees Voted to Fire Two Principals and Hundreds of Teachers Tonight

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DISD Superintendent Mike Miles
In a key win for the district's embattled administration, Dallas Independent School District trustees voted tonight to fire two principals and as many as 400 teachers, over the often heated objections of employees and activists.

It was the culmination of months of debate and protests over Superintendent Mike Miles' reform efforts, which included placing some teachers and principals on "growth plans" and forcing those considered least effective out of their jobs. But in the end, the vote for the firings -- which passed 7-2, with Trustees Bernadette Nutall and Carla Ranger voting against -- seemed to indicate that Miles still has plenty of support on the board that hired him last year.

The weeks leading up to the vote have been fraught with bad press and dissolving support for Miles. Local business leaders have chastised him, as has Juanita Wallace, president of the local NAACP branch.

Much of the contention has been around principals in southern Dallas, including Madison High School's Marion Willard and Leslie Swann at Lincoln High School. (The fired principals weren't named, although the Morning News is reporting that Willard and Leicha Shaver, the principal at Roosevelt High, were the ones let go.) Critics, including City Council member Carolyn Davis, have accused the district of targeting black principals. Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price has publicly opposed Miles' reforms, encouraging 75 pastors to resist the superintendent's outreach efforts, claiming "that now Pontius Pilate plans to parade through many of your churches with a fake Jesus in tow."

See also:
"Mike Miles vs. The World," this week's cover story by Jim Schutze.

Mayor Mike Rawlings has thrown his support behind Miles, launching an online petition, ImproveDallasSchools.com, earlier this week.

At the meeting, several speakers from the community spoke out against Miles' policies. Angela Davis, president of the National Education Association's Dallas chapter, urged the board to vote against the nonrenewals. She said the district needs "useful productive solutions" and these rapid changes wouldn't bring that. (The NEA said 440 teachers were "non-renewed" -- not asked back, basically -- although the district reportedly denies it's that many.)

"Board members," added community activist Joyce Foreman, "you forgot one recognition for bullying" when handing out school awards. After calling Miles a bully, she said, "We are not afraid. This is not Colorado."

Throughout the night members of the crowd loudly interjected during discussion among the trustees. The outbursts eventually caused Trustee Lew Blackburn to snap: "This is our meeting."

About 50 of the district's more than 200 schools could get new principals next year, after their current principals either accepted demotions or left the district. One principal who left was Anthony Tovar, the beloved Sunset High School largely credited for turning the school around and who was profiled in the Observer in 2009. He announced in April that he would retire. Tovar was also on a growth plan but maintains that he was not forced out of his position.


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37 comments
sophee
sophee

The schools can only do so much with students who are sent to school totally unprepared and untrained by their parents to sit down and listen, and with no intellectual stimulation whatsoever at home. Until we declare war on poverty the educational problem will continue. 

crg328
crg328

I AM A TEACHER IN THIS DISTRICT and ONLY teachers and principals know what it's like working UNDER THE THUMB of Mike Miles. Any one who has a classroom is to some degree: sick, depressed, scared and stressed. My campus is not in south Dallas. My campus is not a failing one. But we are still under the thumb and have felt that way since day one of the school year. 

Yes, Miles plans sound wonderful on paper and in speeches but unless YOU are the one implementing his extremely demanding initiatives on a DAILY BASIS, I think you should just shut the f*ck up. 

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

If John Wiley is against something - I'm for it! As for this needed reform - it is still starting late. Gotta get rid of bad teachers/administrators who have hung on forever while the performance at their schools has consistenty been bad. Those complaining either had kids who got by barely or want to see the same old stuff going on in the classroom. Up until now - even with good reason and lack of results - DISD couldnt get rid of the problem teachers/administrators because the due process was one that guarantied they would never be let go. It isnt a racial thing as some might try to put out there, but an educational and performance issue! Better schools deserve to have accountability and Miles may take some hits from Wiley and his cohorts - but this is the right thing to do!

cynicaloldbastard
cynicaloldbastard

" Local business leaders have chastised him..."

This is shoddy journalism to refer to these people as "business leaders".  These three individuals are the ring-leaders of the South Dallas "equity" program.  These "leaders" are receiving tens of millions of dollars from corrupt DISD practices. If they are against change it is because it will effect their contracts with DISD.  These three people could care less if the kids in these schools never graduate.

Cliffhanger
Cliffhanger

So there was a DISD job fair earlier this month, and now we're letting more than 400 teachers go. Any idea on how many of these teachers are going to be replaced and how? Last I heard there were still unfilled positions (and the ongoing job fairs seems to support this notion). Are the cuts budget or performance based, or both? If Miles is serious about restoring local control to the schools, then why are we having mass firings?

Rick Mitchell
Rick Mitchell

I think that DISD wants more money going to Charter Schools.

Ann Barnes
Ann Barnes

While deadwood teachers and fiefdom protecting principles may be part of the problem, I would have to say that the majority of DISD problems are at the administration level, there better be BIG changes being made there also or else we'll all just eat hash next year.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

What was LULAC's position?  Seems they would be a key player more and more with changing demographics of the district.  Odd that you left out their position.

JSSS
JSSS

It is unfortunate that many would prefer to keep their own little fiefdoms intact instead of trying to better the schools for future generations. 

Megan Dodson
Megan Dodson

I don't get why this is bad. If the teachers aren't doing their jobs correctly, they shouldn't be in those positions. The union has protected too many "educators" who don't do buttkiss for education. As someone who went through the DISD school system, it was horrible when I was in it. I've learned more on my own than I have from school, save for maybe five teachers max, excluding rote learning anyone can teach. The system set in place is broken and needs to be reformed. Not just in Dallas. If the firings are unwarranted, then it's something to be upset about, but there aren't any specific reasons I'm seeing being listed. Just people whining about turnover that happens in every type of work place. If the part is broken, fix it. If it's beyond repair, replace it.

Dan Pettit
Dan Pettit

After doing a Google Search on him, yes, he did come from Colorado.

Tigris Steph
Tigris Steph

Isnt the district miles came from to texas in Colorado?

Dan Pettit
Dan Pettit

"Board members," added community activist Joyce Foreman, "you forgot one recognition for bullying" when handing out school awards. After calling Miles a bully, she said, "We are not afraid. This is not Colorado."

Cristella Pena
Cristella Pena

Glad DISD has a 3 day weekend coming up after all this.

James080
James080 topcommenter

@sophee  

We declared war on poverty in the 1960's. Poverty won.

crg328
crg328

@Cliffhanger 400 + teachers are being forced out. This doesn't include the DISD teachers who are leaving of their own volition, like myself and several others on my campus. Good luck to mike on running a district with no teachers. 


joe.tone
joe.tone moderator

@Cliffhanger They're performance-based, and the plan is to replace them. The controversial part is with whom -- and how many of the new ones will be from Teach for America. 

everlastingphelps
everlastingphelps topcommenter

@Cliffhanger I understand all the firings to be performance based, and that's why I support them.  Get rid of the bad teachers.  A good teacher with a class of 50 does more than a bad teacher with a class of 12 (and the studies back that up.)

Nepotista
Nepotista

@bealotcoolerifyoudid 

LULAC is really Bea and Rene Martinez...who have numerous relatives who work for the district.  They want a piece of the jobs pie. It is certainly not "about the kids".  Never has been.

beegee01
beegee01

@everlastingphelps @Cliffhanger  It is my opinion that many of the performance based cuts were a smokescreen really...budget was the main reason for the cuts.  They will be replaced with Teach for America teachers at the lowest pay scale.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

@bealotcoolerifyoudid @EastDallasMom You didn't say "my" so how would I know? I take it back. You're not a dumb ass. I agree with you in that there is not a singular voice.  Hispanics who have been in this country many generations, vote as Americans because they don't think of themselves as Hispanics, first and foremost. They will vote for the Hispanic candidate if he/she is the best candidate, same as anybody else.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@EastDallasMom @bealotcoolerifyoudid

If you are talking about my "Hispanic voice" in quotes then, no, I was making a comment in reference to Nepotista's comment that Bea and Rene Martinez = Lulac.  A much smaller group of people than the list you describe.

I also don't think there is a singular voice of any class/race/religion/etc.  We just don't fit that neatly into a category.

But read into my comment whatever you want to.

EastDallasMom
EastDallasMom

@bealotcoolerifyoudid You mean the "Hispanics" who've chosen to educate themselves and their children and who are teachers, doctors, engineers, programmers, artists, contractors, nurses, bankers and small business owners and who send their kids to public school and volunteer? Those "Hispanics"? Yeah, we see what you mean. God forbid any of them speak up on behalf of anyone's kid. Maybe you should start really trying "to be a lot cooler" by not saying dumb ass shit.

bealotcoolerifyoudid
bealotcoolerifyoudid

@ScottsMerkin @Nepotista @bealotcoolerifyoudid Yes, but the interesting part is that the board went with Miles and that the "Hispanic voice" (in quotes b/c I really don't think a handful of people speak for thousands) may have eroded some of the power base of the South DallasJWP leadership.  It's interesting in a "is that Schutze walking his dog? kinda way."

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