DISD's Mike Miles is Under the Gun Again, But Why?

Follow-up question: Will he survive?

Rereading last week's leaked investigative report on Dallas school Superintendent Mike Miles, I kept getting this little itch. I was sure I had read something about this somewhere else just recently. But I couldn't imagine where.

The report is the work of an obscure entity called the Office of Professional Responsibility, created four years ago to serve as the superintendent's eyes and ears on matters of fraud and waste. Since its creation, the OPR, as it's called, has pushed its own envelope to include every kind of personnel and policy issue. In the last year, the OPR has lobbied the school board to take it out from under the superintendent and set it up as the board's own FBI. That has not happened.

In this instance Miles has been lambasted for telling the OPR to briefly suspend its investigation of a contracting matter. What no one asks or answers, however, is this: If Miles can't tell the OPR what to do, if the OPR does not work for him, then for whom does it work? What does it do, actually? How? Why?

I printed out the OPR report, and as soon as I saw it on paper, it came to me! It wasn't what was in the report that was hauntingly familiar. It was what the report itself looked like on the page.

It's the typefaces and the underlining! First of all, the report wanders all over the place, doubles back on itself, never sets out the criteria for what it's looking for and finally just sort of disgorges a bunch of gossip from random people. But that's not what caught my eye.

It uses all kinds of typefaces and font colors, and it has all of this apparently random underlining. Yes! The random underlining. I am reading a really good Irish crime novel right now called The Rage by Gene Kerrigan. The other night a particular paragraph jumped out at me. The author was talking about how detectives have to read a lot of files sent to them by crazy people.

He said: "Civilians who keep files on people tend to be secret-agent fantasists. The files are laced with underlined words and exclamation marks, a coded index and key sentences typed in capital letters."

Exactly! I get those files too! We all do. That's exactly why the OPR report was giving me the willies. It doesn't even look like a real report. It lacks the basic elements one would expect from sane professionals.

Why, you might ask, if reports that look like this are so consistently wacko, do detectives and newspaper people read them? Ah, therein is our little secret. I will get to that at the end. (Hint: not for fun.)

This report sort of mentions that the district has criteria for determining whether a contracting process has been carried out properly — rules for what must be done and not done. But the report fails to lay out what those rules are.

So, Houston, we've already got a problem, because we don't know what we're investigating. Is it for ignoring rules, violating policies, breaking the law even? Well, the way you do that in a real investigative report is to lay out the rules, the policies and the laws in question. Those are your benchmarks. Now you know whom to interview and what to ask.

If you saw this story on TV last week or read about it in The Dallas Morning News, you came away with the impression that the report must have done exactly that. The Morning News summarized the report in an editorial, saying: "It moves quickly to accusations that Miles attempted to improperly influence its outcome on behalf of a favored vendor and bullied subordinates who did not support him to his satisfaction."

But that is not true. The report accuses the superintendent of schools of nothing. Rebecca Rodriguez, a former TV reporter, was head of communications for the school district until a recent separation. She is quoted saying: "As Chief of Communications, it is my responsibility to address the Board of Trustees and defend a document that bears my signature, as did the RFP in question."

But that's not true. It's only her job to talk to the board of directors if her boss, the superintendent, tells her to. She's not on TV. She's an employee. Nor is it her job to defend anything. That's also the superintendent's job. He's the one on the hot seat. And finally, she didn't sign the document she said she had signed, the request for proposals, because that's not how the process works. She doesn't even get or remember how the process works.

Rodriguez says in the report, "I cannot condone the decision to pull a potentially controversial item from an agenda hours before a meeting, even if it is within a Superintendent's authority to do so."

So bear with me for a moment. This goofy wandering report, which has never set out what the real criteria are for a proper contracting process, allows a disgruntled soon-to-be-separated employee to define the issue. And according to her, it's somehow wrong or corrupt for the superintendent to pull a contract from the meeting agenda shortly before a meeting.

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41 comments
barehandedspank
barehandedspank

It's called union busting and Mike was trained by legal peeps and psyche peeps on how to instigate, manipulate, and yes they are supposed to keep it legal....but do they? Why don't you try liooking into the principal at Haltom High? Or better yet, FW. PD. and their chief....all union busters hired by city officials nationwide busting teachers unions, firemen's, police, Lockheed and other defense contractors. It's happening everywhere. If someone doesn't call them out soon, Everyone, union or not, will see their incomes cut inhalf! If not more. Lockheed already hires in new people at their Georgia plant at 10 bucks an hour less than those before them. And when the union is gone from from all their plants, everyone, including engineers and managers will see their pay checks drastically reduced.

smichaelclark59
smichaelclark59

Mike your doing a great job don't listen to the haters.  They are the reason our children are so dumb

ginger4v
ginger4v

DISD is a failing district. I thought he was there to clean it up. Guess the board wants to keep corruption?

Johnny
Johnny

Just let the supt do his job. If he don't get rid of him. Sounds like both rodriguez and smith don't like being told what to do. Surprise finding that in DISD!

Johnny
Johnny

If the superintendent has the authority to authorize an investigation does he not also have the authority to suspend? I worked for the district for over thirty years and know it was very common to stop or not even begin investigations on every allegation. Employees that leave the district or are expected to leave have other options of recourse like grievances or lawsuits. A settlement agreement is a no brainer

bill.wallisch
bill.wallisch

I don't wish ill of anyone. Really, I don't, but one has to wonder if perhaps Karma is coming back around to bite Mr. Miles for his bullying and poor treatment of good people. I'm not sure if his actions are a result of sociopathy or arrogance -- or both. 

I live in Colorado Springs and I must admit, teachers and administrators here are not at all surprised to see things are going poorly with his reign as superintendent in Dallas. It seemed only a matter of time. We were all pretty submissive to his bullying here as he built a board that bought his bullying as necessary to improve test scores -- they didn't improve -- check them. In fact, I know of several instances where teachers and administrator committed fraud on standardize testing to avoid Mile's bullying tactics. A problem that is now being exposed across the nation for similar reasons.

Thanks for staying on this. Reform is needed in education as a result of this kind of damaging leadership.

Catchup
Catchup

Is everyone forgetting who went to Colorado and brought this joker to TX? They are the same ones supporting this extravagantly costly investigation. Is this the same firm with the investigator that did the district pcard investigation and then went to work with opr? I think everyone can see where this is going. Sorry miles you on rails. Hold out for couple years pay. The way this has been mishandled you will get it

holmantx
holmantx topcommenter

Sounds like a hit piece right out of The Tattler, but without the artwork.

Publish it in its entirety in the Dallas Observer.  Wrap it in T&A.

However, that might give it the status is does not deserve.

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Perhaps you are one of the people who believes that, despite the adolescent suicides that have been linked to it and nation-wide campaigns aiming to end it, bullying just isn't that big a deal.

It's my hope that this isn't the case for you, as I'd say you're an influential writer in the Dallas community.

The OPR report directly states "Alleged Unprofessional Conduct / Bullying" as a part of the investigation - is there something that makes this part of the story not important to you? 

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Also I'm curious: if the report was styled such that the text was only black and white, sans italics or underlines or big red boxes, would your interpretation of the content differ?


eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Jim,
Based on your evaluation of the report, it seems who ever is in charge of OPR really needs to crack down on the type of work they produce. For an official report to come out as a "meandering mess" might be embarrassing for whoever oversees that department.


NightSand
NightSand

Can anyone tell me why people Mike Miles?   Two reason I have heard: 

1.  He makes teachers go to meetings

2.  He fired a lot of people


  I applaud firing people, DISD is a joke and if some people need to lose their jobs to start actually teaching children, then so be it.  Teachers going to meetings, I don't know much about their average day, but it sounds like my job.  

whocareswhatithink
whocareswhatithink

You want to know what's cool about all this Mike Miles talk....it reminds my of my love for M&M's. Mmmmm.

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, have you studied what happened during the 6 years Mike Miles was superintendent of Harrison School District Two in Colorado Springs? The percentage of 9th graders never making it to the 12th grade in Harrison went up about 500%!

From 2005/06 to 2012/13, while elementary enrollment grew enough in Harrison Two to make up the loss, 8th grade enrollment dropped 7.2%, 9th grade enrollment dropped 16.2%, 10th grade enrollment dropped 22.7%, 11th grade enrollment dropped 22.3%, and 12th grade enrollment dropped 33.2%! Why would this pattern of student loss exist outside of students leaving to avoid something, like SAT/ACT tests? Which students were most likely to be feeling such pressure, those getting high test grades or those getting low test grades?

Did you know that one of the main bragging points for Mr. Miles being hired in DISD was that he raised the ACT in Harrison over 2 full points!! Bytheway, the largest district next to Harrison has their rate go down. Do you wonder if it was students transfering from Harrison? Jim, can you guess why the 12th grade enrollment in Harrison would drop 33% while total enrollment was flat due to massive growth in the elementary school years?

Jim, can you find out if these issues were explored by the DISD Board in the hiring process?

bbetzen
bbetzen

Jim, did you notice that the dropout report they were bragging about was for 2012? "Last week new numbers came out showing significant improvement in one of the district's toughest problems over the years, the dropout rate. In his first year, Miles has accomplished virtually all of his major goals in a campaign of tough school reform. So what would the motivation be for getting rid of him?"

Yes, it did indicate the progress would probably continue for 2013, but improving graduation rates takes years and years of work. Once a new superintendent is on the job over 2 years they may be able to show what they have done that made a difference.

sunshinelgp
sunshinelgp

this past year was my daughter's first as a teacher, pre k. and she was in the alt cert program. she started the year with high hopes of learning a profession to carry her into the far future. she is bilingual, thanks to our years living overseas for my husband's job. her goal is to one day teach art. in her school she soon was required to attend meetings five days a week. her planning, which took her far longer as a new teacher, and alt cert homework, plus any homework assigned to all teachers in her school had to be done after six pm and on weekends. many times i did not believe she would make it through the year. she said other teachers, those who kids and husbands, were getting less than six hours sleep at night. and there were several exams for certification she studied for as well. teachers all around her started threatening to quit at some point the meetings dropped back to three days a week. she did not choose to get certified in college due to wanting to take as many art credits as possible. she graduated magna cum laude. many conversations in her school, instead of being about how to better teach, were about how to better stomach the orders from above. she said she doesnt even want to think about how much money she made per hour this past year. she is sure a job at the mall would have paid better. is it really that hard to find a good superintendent? between my husband's family and mine, including my 2 parents, there are 14 teachers. immediate family, not counting past second cousins. i grew up the daughter of a junior high counselor. there was never a conversation at dinner about how hard my dad's job was. he dealt with the most difficult situations as a counselor and painted houses all summer to bolster his salary. before he counseled he taught fifth grade, junior high math, english, journalism. one thing i don't understand, apart from why mike miles was hired is why school principals are not required to teach first. 

crg328
crg328

If there's one way to wake up on the wrong side of the bed... Read another pro Miles article written by Jim Schutze. 

crg328
crg328

Jim, how brown is your nose right now? Your articles supporting Miles are outrageous. You have no perspective on Miles or what it is like to work for him. I was a teacher in DISD and sadly I was at the very bottom of the food chain. Teachers are the reformers! Not Miles and his ridiculous untested methods. You think you've seen "wandering reports"? Teachers had mandatory meetings TWICE A WEEK (during time that was supposed to be OURS for planning) to look at obnoxious data that sounds much like the report you skimmed through. I'd like to see how you feel about Miles after having worked for him as a teacher. 

You should be ashamed of yourself. You've been part of this community for a long time. I'd like to see you caring more for teachers--who have been here and have a vested interest in the children. Dallas is not a stepping stone to us!

westdallas1
westdallas1

I am not a big fan of Miles, but I must agree with you on this one. Why would you underline something in a report that is supposed to be objective? Why were none of Miles responses underlined? OPR seemed to use their investigative skills to discover Miles first name was "Floyd" and chose to insert it inconsistently throughout the report. Why, for spice? Did they realize that the superintendents name was listed as Mike Miles in the header of the very same report?  Why was it not changed as well? Now that OPR and the world knows the superintendents name is Floyd, will they change the header on all future reports? The report appeared slanted, hurriedly put together, stamped "final" and rushed to the presses even though it contained no finding of fact or conclusion. It reminded me of the common defense often used by attorneys when they claim the investigators came to a conclusion first then wrote the report to fit. Yea, many of us here don't care because it is Miles and we are displeased with how he has managed or failed to manage the district, but the next report could be you in the title.

hollyholly1013
hollyholly1013

Also, increasing the graduation rate has been a long-time district goal that began years ago with Hinajosa.  Please get your facts straight.  There is no way that Miles could ever accomplish this in one year.  The only reform Miles has delivered is turning out employees.  Unfortunately many of these turned-out employees are the best ones - those  who have ethics, have won multiple awards and recognition, and are experienced veterans.Why else is Miles having to publicly ask surrounding districts not to hire any more of its people?  


hollyholly1013
hollyholly1013

Why are you attacking Rodriguez and making her a scapegoat for Miles latest blunder?  Miles reaps what he sows.  Your take on the report is a little skewed and way off center.  Did you lose big in a round of poker or is it your time to buy brews?


Flabbergasted
Flabbergasted

How much is Todd  paying you for this?

You are to DISD, what J W P is to Dallas. Used and useless at the same time.

MrGlen
MrGlen

What major goals do you think ole Mikey has achieved all by himself, Jim?  Graduation rate? really, that one is a hard one to  credit one person.  I would like to know what you think he did exactly to help the graduation rate improve? Please list the other accomplishments. I can't wait to read this.

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

Jim,
I wonder what reason(s) compelled Miles to halt the investigation, especially since it turned out to be just another "goofy wandering" report. Do you know? 

Also, I'd speculate that I'm not the only one who finds it odd that Miles stopped an investigation that was investigating his actions.


"...to briefly suspend its investigation of a contracting matter." - since you read the report (like I did), you must've seen on page 4 and other places that the investigation was looking into three allegations, not only a contracting matter: 1) Pulling Agenda Item from Board Briefing on June 13, 2013, 2) Alleged Unprofessional Conduct / Bullying, and 3) Alleged Obstruction of OPR Investigation. 
Why these pieces were left out of this article is a mystery to me.


Obummer
Obummer

Yo newspapers be used in da bot of oh parrot cages. It's uh lot bettah use fo' dem.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@eastdallascam 

Please explain: do you see  a link between bullying, teenage suicide, and an adult getting chewed out by her boss?

NightSand
NightSand

@eastdallascam I think he addressed this, they found nothing, per the article.  I am still not sure why the established people of the DISD are coming down on Mike Miles, but it seems like pretty flimsy veils.  If they don't like him, why not just fire him?   Why go through $100K investigation to find something he did to fire him?  

Willie
Willie

@bbetzen So what are the grade-specific enrollment numbers for DISD high schools showing improved graduation rates?  I'm thinking these data were not released.  So if the underachievers are run off, where would they go?  Thanks.

NightSand
NightSand

@sunshinelgpThe average salary for a teacher is $45K and in school for 180 days a year.  Which works out to $250 a day.  I am not sure too many mall jobs pay that amount.

Not sure what you are even complaining about.  

NightSand
NightSand

@eastdallascam He addressed all of these things.  1) he legally removed items from the board briefing.  2) telling Rodriguez that she works for him and she has nothing to do with the board. 3) the OPR works for him, so he can suspend the investigation.  

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

@NightSand @eastdallascam Right, "per the article," which I guess is the issue I'm having with it being left out, because the report details the allegations. (Side note: though the report is final, that does not mean it is complete. It is the collection of OPR's findings up to the point that Miles halted it, basically). 

DISD Trustee Carla Ranger posted it for the public on her blog. While I recommend reading the whole to get a better understanding of the environment of the whole thing, her blog post is a brief summary:
http://carlaranger.blogspot.com/2013/07/dallas-isd-opr-report-alleges.html  the investigation of alleged bullying begins on page 20.

Finally to answer your question about firing him - Miles is in a contract with DISD, and to terminate it voluntarily as opposed to him violating it would mean the district paying him hundreds of thousands of dollars as he walked out the door. That's my understanding of it in a nutshell. (Plus, what board member would want to admit they were wrong to hire him in the first place!)

I hope you find this information helpful.

NightSand
NightSand

@eastdallascam @NightSand So I appreciate the link and your passion.  But from reading these concerns, it seems like they are mainly dragging up his past job, upset he is not addressing letters that are trying to entrap him, and there is a report that the style of administration he is trying to implement and was hired to implement, might not work...   

hollyholly1013
hollyholly1013

@NightSand @sunshinelgp  Dear NightSand, $45K / 365 = $123 per day.  Similar to minimum pay without the stress, the abuse, and peril to health.  If you had ever taught, you would realize that teachers need that two months off to recoup. I believe Sunshinelgp sounds like she knows the difference between what teaching should be like and what it actually has become.  Do you work 14 hour days?  THAT is the life of a teacher.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@eastdallascam @JimSX 

But I can't recall a single story about Miles losing his temper or bullying people. Not one. The stories I do hear about teachers being hounded and subjected to stupid rules are all about principals, many of whom do sound stupid. But I thought Miles' whole effort this year was about getting rid of stupid principals. I see lots of words like "militaristic" and "drill sergeant" in the anti-Miles rhetoric, which sounds like an attempt to use his military career against him. But I have not heard a single account by a witness of his behaving in a militaristic fashion, like a martinet. Have I missed something?

eastdallascam
eastdallascam

@JimSX @eastdallascam 
In general my answer to that question would be no. To me, this instance differs because, based on my interpretations of the report, it was not a one time deal. 

Like you, the words of the report are really the only pieces I have to go on in regards to this allegation. Unlike you, however, the alleged behavior too closely aligns with descriptions of Miles over the last year for me to brush it under the rug as just a boss scolding an employee.

JimSX
JimSX topcommenter

@eastdallascam @JimSX 

Sorry, I still don't get it. If a boss verbally bawls out a subordinate, is that bullying? 

 
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