Mike Miles Gave a Long Somber Statement Last Night to the DISD Board. Lew Blackburn Came Back at Him.

Categories: Schutze

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Late last night the Dallas school board carried out an hours-long closed-door session where they listened to an investigative report into alleged policy violations by school Superintendent Mike Miles. The report by attorney Paul Coggins cleared Miles of all of the legal and policy violations of which he was accused in an earlier internal school district investigation but added on possible policy violations related to criticism of the board.
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Mark Graham
Mike Miles told the school board last night he visits schools and classrooms because they are "my sanctuary." Board member Lew Blackburn scoffed.

Miles came to town a year ago to carry out a top-to-bottom reform of the school district. Serious blow-back to his reform measures came quickly from the African-American community and from teachers and principals unions. The business community and Hispanic leadership have supported him.

The total student body is now now 67 percent Hispanic, 24 percent black. By some measurements enrollment in grades K through is now 80 percent Hispanic.

In a subsequent even later public session of the board last night, Coggins conceded in response to questions that a charge of "bullying" against Miles in the internal report had collapsed quickly when Coggins looked into it. When he questioned the employee quoted in the internal report, she denied having made the accusation.

The school board learned earlier this month that none of the serious charges in the internal report had survived Coggins' examination. At that point they asked Coggins to redirect his efforts toward a charge that Miles had caused, allowed or taken part in the publication of a letter by a resigning school district executive that was critical of the school board.

Coggins has never offered the board smoking-gun proof that Miles had anything to do with the letter, but he has given them plenty of circumstantial indications he could have. Coggins told the board that according to school district policy Miles was supposed to maintain good relations with the board. If he indeed participated in events which made the board look bad, Coggins said they could fire him.

Most of last night's public session in which board members questioned Coggins was directed toward that point. No decision was made last night about Miles' fate, but board member Lew Blackburn told reporters after the public meeting that the board was still weighing firing him.

At the start of the public session, board president Eric Cowan asked Miles if he wanted to say anything. Miles said, "Yes, I'll make some remarks." The board room, jammed with media and audience, sat in pin-drop silence while a somber and stony-faced Miles read this prepared statement:

School leaders and I visit schools and classrooms a lot. I do so partly because the classrooms and schools are my sanctuary. Mostly however we do so because that's where the real difference for children is being made. That's really the real victory.

While thousands of support staff also make a difference, the focus primarily has to be on instruction and the achievement of our students. Going to the schools we see reminders of what actually is at stake and the reason why we need to continue to meet those challenges.

Going to the schools I get inspired by the effort and work that's happening every day. I see teachers stepping up and raising the quality of instruction. I see principals inspiring and leading their staffs. I see support staff taking pride in serving our children, making an old building shine and other things that they do for our kids.

While not all are happy with the transformation we are undergoing, the majority have risen to the challenge for the sake of our children. The community as a whole has also embraced the notion that the time is now and that everyone has to contribute to the cause.

Every day almost everywhere I go, someone will approach me and tell me that we will need to stay the course. In emails, phone calls and meetings over the last two months, the support has been palpable, and I say to those folks, thank you.

I believe people understand that we are in a story that matters. I believe some are beginning to grasp what it will really take to change. We are in a real-life movie where the odds are against us, where futures hang in the balance and countless children are counting on us.

It was always going to be about courage. It was always going to be about sacrifice and near impossible odds. It was also always going to be about hope.

For sometimes even in real life, a small but critical mass of people step up and change the course of events. They make their voices heard. They leave the safety of the sidelines and step onto the field. They risk being the recipients of criticism for speaking out. They risk being associated with an enterprise that still has a chance of failure. They risk writing themselves into a story that matters where the ending has yet to be filmed.

We're in a real story that matters. And while the script may have been drafted, the final scenes have not been shot. Together, staff and community, we have great influence over the ending and will shape how this story of thousands of children ends.

I have to admit that in moments of weakness I get frustrated, and the negativity takes its toll. I know that this is what is required of the superintendent at this time in Dallas Independent School District's history. As one community member told me recently, 'So many people believe in what the district is doing, you don't have the right to let them down.'

So many students, parents and teachers and staff need me and the team to do our best work. To the community, let me renew my commitment to do everything I can to help our students get the best education possible.

To the board, there are several things I could have done better last year, and there are relationships with some of you I wish had been stronger. I want you to know that I am prepared to reset the relationship with the board and move forward to help our students get the best education possible.

Our students, staff parents and community need us to stay focused on our students' future. I plan to do that. I hope you will be willing to move forward together, and I look forward to finding ways that are agreeable to this board and the community.

That's my statement.

Later during questioning of Coggins, school board member Blackburn made these extemporaneous remarks:

"Quite often we have employees who come to the board with grievances. We often hear of the emotional stories. We often hear how great they have done in the classroom. We often hear about how they worked after hours to help students. We hear about all that they are doing, but the board can only take action on the facts of the case.

"If they are being terminated because of habitual tardiness or habitual absences, that's the matter of the case, not that they've done a great job after school on Saturday."

At this point several outspoken critics of Miles in the audience snickered loudly.

"So whereas you may have done a good job or even a great job in one area, the reason for being here has nothing to do with that.

"So this investigation is not about classroom visits. It's not about how well our schools are doing. It's not about principal evaluations. It's really about whether or not one of our employees violated policy. And we do have a policy that states that if you violate policy, it's grounds for termination."

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68 comments
Razzledaz
Razzledaz

What? Shipp displayed the email and employees name on tv! Not saying they did anything wrong but this aint no who done it

RogDog
RogDog

Nope. Nothing. The Shipp report was a joke in purchasing.

MatG
MatG

Is Coggins or opr investigating that purchasing person Brett Shipp said violated purchasing policy? Former purchasing director was fired by miles for less!

lzippitydoo
lzippitydoo

Miles has made positive changes - even though he has gone about it the wrong way! With the ethnic makeup of the district and school board, you really cant do anything as all of the infighting between districts and board members will not allow changes needed to improve the district. Bad teachers/administrators have hidden behind the Board and historical rules allowing for unlimited screw up chances!Miles has fast tracked the exit of the under performers to the dismay of their long time supporters and archaic HR rules. The "at will" employment laws dont apply within the school district and it takes years to get rid of bad district employees.

Even the best area minds have found changing the Dallas school district to be almost impossible. Miles has made some progress but it will be at the cost of his job and then you will have a patsy come in next that will be too scared to make needed changes.

Unfortunately, if you have a choice of where you live and go to school (which many do not) - you would move quickly out of this district!

ruddski
ruddski

If the school system is majority Hispanic, then why does DISD have a black leader? Bet he can't even speak the official language of the district.

crg328
crg328

When they fire his ass, can you go with him, Jim?

BettyC1
BettyC1

The investigation did not find violations of policy or contract, please rad the report.The investigative reports states certain circumstances ,as speaking to Jim Schultz, as an attempt to influence media to write disparaging article about Board members, the content of Miles conversation with Schultz was not heard so Coggins does not know what Miles and Schultz talked about, but he sited it in investigation as violation of policy.Its all made up,the original investigation was a. did Miles violate purchasing policy b, did he bully communication employee ,report said he didn't but  investigation was expanded to find something and that is what Coggins did at  the request of one or more board members.The Black board members of the DISD want Miles gone because he fired some of their favorite black employees, this started one month after he arrived in Dallas, have you all forgot the Shirley Isom-Newsome resignation,it started all the shit and it just keeps on going  kids, taxpayers and the district are suffering because of it.Lew Blackburn does not even live in his district or in Dallas,and keeping up all this hell and the community allows it.Shame on them.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

The investigation didn't find "possible policy violations" it found actual violations of both policy and the terms of his contract.

If it is really about the kids, what message are we sending them if there are different standards for Miles and everyone else? How can anyone trust Miles at this point? He could make this all go away by clearly and directly addressing the issues. Instead he gave us a polished, if empty, piece of propaganda.

joyce.foreman
joyce.foreman

Jim, you say that African Americans are angry with Miles because they have been able to pick the principals for years and that has gone away.There are 223 schools in DISD and I am positive that African American preachers and elected officials have not been involved in selecting all of those principals for schools over the last 30 years.Jim, you have also indicated that Miles was messing with the African American middle class because that's where most African Americans get or got that status.I found that to bizarre.We all know that many middle class whites, blacks, and browns have worked for government entities.The federal, state and local governments have helped people of all races become middle class citizens, so why single out the black community?Are we not Americans also looking for the dream are or not deserving because of the history of this country?

I must add that DISD has not been reporting to federal courts sense 2003.

minimark
minimark

Jim, to me - and I want Miles to succeed and agree with most of what you say - Miles has no tact.  I don't think you have any either - and are proud of that - and that may be why you defend him so much.  But he HAS TO TRY TO GET ALONG WITH THE BOARD.  I think he is too proud and arrogant to massage through the quagmire what he wants to get done.  And you can't completely blame the board for that.  You can blame them for hiring him, though.  They should have known it would come to this.  I moved my family from the M Street area to Plano and the Frisco ISD in 1999, and my kids are in the #2 ranked  public middle school in the state according to some BS rating, but I'll claim it!  And all I can say is why would anyone stay in DISD?  And, yes, I do know the answer.  And it is sad.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, here are questions I prepared for Mike Miles to answer. Can you get them to him for a response since for some reason he does not want to get emails from me.

Mr. Miles, high school enrollment in Harrison School District two dropped over 26% from 2005/06 to 2012/13, during your time as superintendent there. During that time total District enrollment was unchanged because K through 7th grade enrollment grew enough to make up the difference. Obviously families were moving into the districts since the elementary enrollment grew over 20%. Why did high school enrollment drop so dramatically under you? Why was this student loss the highest among 12th graders, going down 33% from 2005/06 to 2012/13? During the same time period DISD high school enrollment, especially in the upper grades, was setting all time records in Dallas. Twelfth grade enrollment went up over 14% in Dallas ISD to an all time enrollment record! Why were these same numbers dropping so dramatically in Harrison?

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, here is another question for Mike Miles.

Why did the Promotion Rate (the percentage of 9th grade enrollment reflected in 12th grade enrollment three years later) drop over 31 percentage points in Harrison? In Dallas that same measurement of progress improved to record high measurements, going up over 14 percentage points during the same time period! Why the difference in Harrison? This same issue can be addressed as the percentage of 9th grade enrollment NOT reflected in 12th grade enrollment 3 years later. Why did those numbers explode over 500% in Harrison? In Dallas that same measurement was improving, shrinking from 2006 to 2013, going down over 32%, as the percentage of 9th grade students not reflected in Dallas ISD 12th grade enrollment shrunk.

What was happening in Harrison?

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, here is a final third question:

The Cumulative Promotion Index (CPI) is the most precise, timely, and predictive of the graduation rate measurements. Why did it deteriorate and fall 15 percentage points in Harrison Two from 2005/06 to 2010/11 (when the most recent data could be secured)? During that same time that same measurement rose over 23 percentage points in Dallas ISD to the highest, most positive level on record? By 2011 the CPI in DISD was 12.3 percentage points higher than the same measurement for Harrison Two!

The value and power of the Cumulative Promotion Index was acknowledged in June of 2013 in a Texas Education Agency publication as Education Commissioner Williams congratulated Dallas ISD and other high performing districts for their achievements. Seehttp://www.tea.state.tx.us/index4.aspx?id=25769805415

Jim, I hope these questions are clear and that you can pass them on to Mike Miles. Dallas would like to hear the answers.



markmelton
markmelton

This is beyond disappointing. It is ALWAYS about how our kids are performing. It should NEVER be about petty infighting among adults.

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

Pardon me for pointing out something very obvious.

If Mr. Miles can't manage the smaller issues (the haphazard use of shuttles and vans to transport students at the beginning of the school year, 800 teachers not being properly processed for payroll direct deposit in their first month with DISD, 1,980 current teaching vacancies within the school district 4 weeks after the start of the current school year (that statistic is directly from teachers in the district, not some website that can be manipulated by the current admin, and that number includes all the permanent substitutes in the classroom today), suspicions surrounding a lieutenant's very unprofessional resignation letter being "leaked" to the press and questions regarding execution of the bid process) all within a 3 month span, how can we expect him to tackle the bigger issues?

Mr. Miles has worked in the public sector most of his professional career. If anything he should be a seasoned professional when it comes to policy, procedures, contracts, communication and navigating the political spectrum. I've served as a corporate consultant for many large firms over my 25 year career and worked with many excellent executives. Mr. Miles has not demonstrated this skill set.  An approach of "Let's do X and see what happens" is asking for disaster.  No thoughtful planning, no critical thinking of impact and ramifications and no process to manage and resolve "unintended consequences" quickly.

Ask yourself this question.  If your boss made these kinds of missteps at this level would she/he still be the boss?  I doubt it, all things considered.

s.aten
s.aten

If Mike Miles only crime is to not have good relations with the board, that is understandable.   The DISD school board is a classic example of a dysfunctional group of adults who need counseling on how to work as a board and what there primary function is.    The focus of everyone at DISD should be on providing a quality education for children.  If they are unable to focus, then they need to leave and that includes the school board.

P1Gunter
P1Gunter

Another DISD story with no pictures of hot chicks. Thankfully there was a Babydoll's ad banner on the side when I loaded it.

Rumpunch1
Rumpunch1

However, won't we just replace the black's stranglehold on the District with a Hispanic stranglehold?

phipho5490
phipho5490

This is so tired. Blackburn is truly pathetic.

GatoCat
GatoCat

Most of what I know about Miles comes from reading Jim Shutze, and because of that I support Miles. I suppose if my main source of information had been the DMN and WFAA, I would have a different view altogether. I also remember Jim's initial negative reaction to Miles as reported here, and that it colored my view of Miles at the time. Not being able to be present for all the meetings and goings-on and make an observer's impartial decision, I must try to decipher the truth from those reporters who are. In my experience, Shutze is more straightforward and insightful than mainstream media. I watched him weigh the facts and come to a change of view on Miles, and I believe he knows what he is doing based on his investigative reporting. And therefore I believe Miles knows what he is doing.

bryanr01
bryanr01

"The total student body is now now 67 percent Hispanic, 24 percent black."

So the remaining 9% is all the other races?  That seems really high to me, as compared to the racial make-up of the city. 

mavdog
mavdog topcommenter

Clearly Miles has decided to not cut and run from the job. good for him, and probably good for the district.

his statement was very well crafted, nowhere did the word "apologise" or "sorry" appear. we"ll probably hear about an investigation into the role LeMaster may have played in its writing..

as for Blackburn, he merely proves all the comments that were made about the inept board members.

Guesty
Guesty

So, Blackburn actually said that whether Mile had "done a good job or even a great job" was irrelevant to his decision to fire the head of one of the nation's largest school districts? All that matters to Blackburn is whether Miles violated a policy prohibiting him from criticizing Blackburn?  Glad to see this is all about the kids for the board members.   


dmtrousd
dmtrousd

I had to re-read the statement about good v. bad teachers before it made any sense. How many excellent teachers are habitually tardy or absent? Do the good students get a pass when they are habitually tardy or absent? In any job I've ever worked that pattern will get you canned.

ozonelarryb
ozonelarryb

So Coggins was told by the board DURING his investigation to change direction.....

Self important pond scum rewriting rules as it goes along.

ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul
ThePosterFormerlyKnownasPaul topcommenter

Jim, thank you for reporting on this story.


I have a couple of questions that I hope that you will be able to answer.


What is the percentage of teachers employed at DISD that are members of the AFT?


When was the last time that the AFT local for DISD openly supported the DISD superintendent and who was that Superintendent?


TIA

DISDain2013
DISDain2013

REALLY DUMB comment and indicative of what is wrong. The school superintendent could be GREEN as long as he or she keeps focused, works hard to foster much needed reform and does so ethically. To do ao with as little ego as possible would be icing on the cake. The color of their skin is not the issue and until all parties realize this, we will have the same dumb and sad drama repeated over and over again - Mike Miles or no Mike Miles.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

You are dead wrong. The investigation found possible violations, with the possibility based on a bunch of unproven alllegations. Look, you want him gone, for whatever reason, probably because your wife's a pissed off teacher or something. So you want to insist that this unproven chickenshit stuff is a fatal flaw. That's just crap. Let me see what the headline would be for your thesis: DISD KIDS RUN AMOK, DISILLUSIONED BECAUSE SUPERINTENDENT HELPED OTHER GUY DISPARAGE TRUSTEES, MAYBE, POSSIBLY. Yeah, right. Get off my lawn.

WatchingSouthDetroit
WatchingSouthDetroit

@joyce.foreman I just want to remind you and everyone else that the mission of DISD is to educate kids so that when they leave they are prepared for college, the workplace, and life.  DISD is not a jobs program.  DISD's mission is NOT to fund the middle class (of any race).  DISD is NOT there so certain black "leaders" (I use that term loosely) can get their cronies jobs.  Not EVERY principal or DISD was given their job through connections (political patronage is the polite way of putting it).  But there has and still is cronyism and nepotism that exists in DISD (and in most organizations).

Shirley Isom-Newsome certainly deserved to go.  She was one of the credit card abusers but was never held accountable for that-got away with it.  She was the one behind the ridiculous Red Tails movie fiasco that wasted thousands of taxpayer dollars.  Isom-Newsome was a crony of John Wiley Price - a person who abuses power more than anyone.  Those who were entrenched in power (like Price)  certainly did not like losing it. 

BettyC1
BettyC1

@joyce.foreman They have picked the one they want and you know it.Sad part is Black kids are suffering and none of you all give a dam. You and other want Miles gone because you can no longer run the District. I ask you name one reason you want Miles gone, just one that you can state that has any thing to do with education.

Los_Politico
Los_Politico

@minimark I think it's crazy that suburbanites think the board or superintendent has any effect on the kids. Especially the kids at Stonewall. Stonewall is a much better school than anything in Frisco ISD. I'm going to laugh when your middle schooler ends up at Texas Tech or OU and your former neighbors kids, whether through Woodrow or Booker T, ends up at UT or Vanderbilt. I've seen it happen so many times.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

I understand your point of view. But the fierce opposition of the African-American board members really has nothing to do with Miles' personality. It's about his determination to hire and fire principals himself and their determination instead to control hiring and firing through the old clergy-dominated patronage machinery. Miles could be -- you name the religious figure , Jesus or the Buddha -- and if he took hiring and firing away from the preachers, the black board members would come after him hammer and tongs. The argument that this is about Miles' personality is political cover. There is no personality that would be acceptable if that person threatened the patronage machine. For Elizabeth Jones, this is all deeply personal and psychological to the exclusion of education issues. So she's one vote. The black members are three. And, Houston, we got a problem even if Miles is a saint.

BettyC1
BettyC1

@bbetzen Bill Mike Miles is Superintendent of Dallas board knew all about his record prior to hiring him.Why are you playing on that past record? What problem do you have with him now,today in Dallas.What has he done wrong in Dallas and please don't mention that politically motivated report by Coggins.

scoop3132000
scoop3132000

@bbetzen Since he has only been there one year, how is this his fault?  Instead, you should ask what he is doing to improve it.

scoop3132000
scoop3132000

@bbetzen Again, you are trying to blame Miles for something that happened over the past two superintendents' watch.

BettyC1
BettyC1

@uptownguy1 Dallas County Schools runs transportation and DISD had nothing to do with what was being used until it happened your comment shows just how little people know about the governance of their government. DISD contract just as most other school districts for student transportation with Dallas County School which has an elected board and separate staff ,DISD requested change after concerns were raised.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@uptownguy1 

Your analysis starts off on a wooden leg. The buses and vans the kids ride to school are not operated by DISD. They are operated, badly, by the Dallas County School District. Teacher turnover is perennial under all superintendents. You simply can't add up enough chickenshit here to outweigh the elephant, which is that the school district needs massive reform.

scoop3132000
scoop3132000

@s.aten Agreed. The job is to educate the children and provide them the best opportunity.  Clearly the investigator after spending $100K didn't find the smoking gun.  Instead, he can only say, that Miles isn't getting along with the Board.  Really?  Wow.  Anyone could have figured that out.  The Board is dysfunctional, and it hasn't gotten along with a number of superintendents even with the changing of the guard.  The Board is political.  Instead of wanting a superintendent to kiss their butts, they need someone to tell them the truth and try to fix it.  I'm not sure Miles can do it, but at least he was starting to shake things up.

Just_wonderin
Just_wonderin

@Rumpunch1 

With the sub-districts integrated into one district and the patronage contracting system gone, how can any group have a stranglehold?

Los_Politico
Los_Politico

@bryanr01 The 2012 ACS says K-12 aged children in the city are 56.9% hispanic, 24% black, and 15.4% white. That's relatively close. Plus there isn't perfect overlap. Residents of the district are more hispanic and less white or black than the city.

Los_Politico
Los_Politico

@bryanr01 It's actually 70% hispanic and 23% black, leaving 7% for all others (mostly white)

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@Los_Politico 

I meant K-3, but I checked back with my source, and he says I got it wrong anyway.  He says K-3 is 71 percent Hispanic, which probably involves some rounding. So you are right, and I am wrong.

joyce.foreman
joyce.foreman

@WatchingSouthDetroit Let's get something straight upfront, Shirley Ison-Newsome and I did not agree on many issues regarding DISD and educating our children and it is a known fact that Price and I have had our public disagreements but this is not about Shirley or Price, this is about the "disruptive" change that Miles is trying to implement.  Check his record in Colorado Spring and see if he did not face the same problem with 11,000 students and 22 schools.  Also check the test score improvements that happened in Harrison 2 in six years.  They were marginal.  This district is 157,000  and 223 schools.  If he struggled in such a small district, clearly he was and is going to struggle here.  Change is not always difficult.  Working with the employees and community to implement change will always gain more support. 

If you read my question to Jim you would know that is not what I said, but that is what he said.  And you made my point about not every principal, teacher, cafeteria work, janitor or support staff was given their job by connections.  There is cronyism and nepotism that exist on most jobs that have a large number of employees. I am still awaiting Jim's response.

joyce.foreman
joyce.foreman

@BettyC1 @joyce.foreman  You can not speak for me Betty.  I do care about our children and my record of involvement with DISD shows that.  I have never tried to run the district but I have tried to work with each superintendent that has been here since Marvin Edwards.  I have not always agreed with any of the trustees or staff at DISD but clearly I have a long history of giving my time, money and service to DISD. 

Jim Schultz can speak for himself about what I ask him. And by the way you did not address the question either.  I await Jim's response.

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

@JimSX @uptownguy1 His JOB is to manage all aspects of the school district and it's ultimately his RESPONSIBILITY.  If he can't control these items then he's NOT QUALIFIED.  Perception is reality.

Guesty
Guesty

@Los_Politico And a very large percentage of whites send their kids to private schools.  

uptownguy1
uptownguy1

@joyce.foreman @WatchingSouthDetroit If Miles can't manage the small stuff (all the issues just since school started + this this investigation stain), how can we expect him to handle the really big issues?  He's an amateur.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

Perception is not reality when perception is based on a wrong gasp of the facts. Then, perception is just wrong.

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