Mike Miles Keeps His Job, Gets Firm Slap on the Wrist

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Mark Graham
The robocalls from Alliance AFT; the misleading mailers hastily called up at the last minute by God (and a Houston PR firm) only knows; the scathing "research paper" by arch-nemesis Don Williams; the chastisements of John Wiley Price, they all failed to convince Dallas ISD's Board of Trustees. On Monday night, they voted 5-3 to let Superintendent Mike Miles keep his job.

That's not because a majority of trustees didn't believe that Miles hadn't violated district policy. All agreed that the independent report by former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins contained ample proof that he had. The disagreement was whether the violations amounted to fireable offenses.

Trustee Carla Ranger, predictably, said yes: "The superintendent has substantially impaired or diminished his effectiveness in the district. He has substantially impaired and diminished his effectiveness in the community and the board needs to take the appropriate action."

See also: Will the Real Jesus Please Rise Up and Kick John Wiley Price in the Junk?

Board President Eric Cowan said no. "We certainly have other options. But when we're talking about the investigation report, and whether that rises to the level of termination, I simply don't see it."

The outcome wasn't a surprise. The three trustees who voted to can Miles -- Ranger, Bernadette Nutall, Lew Blackburn -- had telegraphed their feelings in preceding weeks. Same with Miles supporters like Cowan, Nancy Bingham, and Mike Morath.

The only vote that was really in question was Elizabeth Jones, target of former operations chief Kevin Smelker's now-infamous resignation letter, which an independent investigation found that Miles had helped craft.

See also: Paul Coggins' Report on the DISD Mess Has Just Enough Fiction to Screw Mike Miles

Trustees did vote to hand down several punishments. According to The Dallas Morning News, he will be given a letter of reprimand and placed on a growth plan for 90 days. The clause in his contract granting him a one-year extension upon receiving a performance rating of "proficient" was axed.

So, Miles keeps his job. The question now is whether he'll be able to do it. The trustees' vote didn't erase the battle lines that have been drawn or filled in the trenches that have been dug. Miles has won a major battle, but the war for DISD continues unabated.

Update at 9:48 a.m.: Dallas ISD has posted the amendments trustees made to Miles' contract. Basically, it strips him of his authority to hire staff in the internal audit department (previously only the chief auditor was exempt from Miles' control) and modifies the conditions under which he can be fired to include:

-a performance rating of "unsatisfactory";

-Making, publishing or assist in making or publishing false, visious or malicious statements concerning any employee or member of the Board; and

-"Disclosing confidential Board or personnel information.

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What will it take to get the legislature or Feds or someone to step in and kill DISD, and split it into several smaller districts? Every time I see or hear "Dallas Schools" or "Mike Miles" in a news story, I thank my lucky stars I bought a home in Richardson ISD.  And while we're at it, why do we need a separate taxing entity (Dallas County Schools) whose sole purpose is to provide buses to other taxing entities?


It's kind of refreshing that nobody is spewing any sanctimonious hypocrisy about it being about the kids. They're pretty much come clean about it being a power struggle over the gravy train.


No one should be surprised by the vote. Miles is untouchable as long as Mayor Mike, Todd Williams, Mark Melton, the Chamber of Commerce, the Citizens' Council, their PACs, cronies and paid lackeys continue to support Miles. Mike Miles could be caught on video robbing a liquor store and desecrating baby Jesus at the First Baptist Nativity display and Morath, Bingham, and Cowan would still vote to keep him and probably give him a raise to boot. Micciche and Jones try to appear more independent but when it gets down to nut cutting time, they're going to dance with the ones that brought them 90 - 100,000 dollars in campaign contributions. 

What remains to be seen is if the big money bosses will continue to support him when it becomes clear that he can't get a bond passed. Don't worry yellow journalists, Miles will mess up again - he can't help himself. When he leaves, and he will before much longer, you can blame your straw men the evil unions, lazy teachers and purveyors of racial patronage and light a candle at your corner altar to martyr Mike Miles who was just trying to help the poor children.


So the hogs at the trough are peeved that their ration has been reduced and are now squealing about it.  

DISD is such a pit, most pits are offended when associated with DISD.

primi_timpano topcommenter

If I were Miles I would get out as quickly as possible. No way the job is worth the hassle.


"Making, publishing or assist in making or publishing false, vicious or malicious statements concerning any employee or member of the Board" 

So, if it's true, does he get to keep his job?


Take the high road and resign. No matter what he attempts to do there is blood in the water and the sharks will win.


I think this article needs a new title.  Something like:

"Business As Usual at DISD", or

"Dallas School Board Trustees Act Like Detroit School Board Trustees", or

"DISD Continues (With Reckless Abandon) Along a Path to Obscurity", or

"John Wiley Price Got Reelected - Why Not Miles?", or

"Countless Dozens of People Seem to Care About DISD", or

"Vote Along Racist Lines Has Minor Implications for DISD Superintendent", or

"DISD Superintendent Effectively Told to 'Stop Trying So Hard'".

Myrna.Minkoff-Katz topcommenter

It's called "stuck between a rock and a hard place".  If they fire him, they still have to pay him.


Jones has always been a harsh critic.  What changed?


@Wilson You already paying Dallas County School to the County. That is a county business.


@EastDallasDad Aww, does wittle vested-interest EastDallasDad feel wounded that his cronies didn't get their way?  Sorry you'll have to actually, you know, teach now. QQ

everlastingphelps topcommenter

 @primi_timpano Not unless you are grafting as hard as the rest of the criminals.  If you are honest?  No way is it worth it.

observist topcommenter

@TheCredibleHulk  Usually that's just pre-dismissal paperwork, but it might be serving a different purpose in this kind of nasty political combat-via-PR fight.


@Gabe48 @EastDallasDad Sorry, but I'm not a teacher, although I once was. I have, however, studied both the history of Dallas and education reform extensively. 

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@observist @TheCredibleHulk 

Considering that that is the exact terminology Miles used when setting up the evaluation plans for certain district principals, I'd say that it was more of a poke in the eye from Nutall & Co. in lieu of the parting shot they would like to have delivered to Miles.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@EastDallasDad @TheCredibleHulk @Gabe48 

Gotta' start somewhere.

Look at it this way: At least both the board and Miles are on notice that EVERYONE IS WATCHING, NOW.

If we keep our eyes on the ball as a community, there is no reason that we cannot bend the wills of both of these entities towards something that is more like a school district and less like the day care / jobs-program we have now.  

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@EastDallasDad @Gabe48 

Look, I don't disagree that the type of reform Miles is proposing is probably not the panacea for all of the ills that plague DISD, but, if you are as you say you are - a student of Dallas education history - how can you possibly defend the status quo that got us to this point?

At this point any change is change for the better. We can and should hold Miles accountable for that change, but we also need to be flexible enough to continue to change the things that need changing as they present themselves.

TheCredibleHulk topcommenter

@EastDallasDad @TheCredibleHulk @Just_wonderin 

That may well be, but there has historically been a wall of separation concerning the DISD that the NDM was careful not to step around in order to tinker with the machinations of the SDM - that was the unwritten deal.

Miles hit that wall with a wrecking-ball and the rats went running.

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