DISD's "Case" Against Mike Miles Is Bogus

Why do trustees think they can ignore the law to protect their reputations?

I think — this is sheer speculation — that Coggins knew the clients who had just paid him $100,000 for his investigation were going to look like idiots and fools if he left them with nothing at all for their money. Maybe that thought never entered Coggins' head, but when the board first heard the original charges had gone up in smoke and they ordered him to investigate The Smelker Letter, he did so with gusto.

The big discussion at the tail end of the board meeting last week — with Coggins choir-directing the anti-Miles half of the board like back-row baritones — was all about his evidence or lack thereof to show that Miles had anything to do with my getting the letter.

Never mind that Eric Celeste, then writing for Culture Map, broke the Smelker resignation story a week before I wrote about it. Never mind that I first wrote about Smelker and the board without the letter in my hand. Never mind that Smelker has insisted on more than one occasion that the letter said exactly what he wanted it to say. Never mind that Coggins' own investigation produced not one scintilla of smoking-gun evidence to show Miles had anything to do with my getting the letter.

Coggins nevertheless told the board last week that if they suspected Miles had something to do with my getting the letter, that would be grounds to fire him.

And I'm sitting out there in the peanut gallery listening to all this, taking notes and running my recording machine like all the other reporters, and I just about can't stand it. I want to get up and ask Coggins a question. In a rare exercise of anti-narcissistic self-restraint I managed to restrain myself at the last minute, but now I would like to pose my question for you here. Pretend you are Coggins and the anti-Miles people on the school board. Here is what I would say to you:

What the fuck.

Wait. Do-over.

Ladies and gentlemen. Coggins proposes that you fire the superintendent if you think he had anything to do with my obtaining The Smelker Letter. Smelker swears he wrote the letter. He swears it said what he wanted to say. So I am left to assume that Coggins would have you fire the superintendent strictly over the question of my having obtained the letter.

The letter was by law a public document. The law requires the school district to give me the letter. It is against the law for the school district to hide the letter from me. There are civil penalties and even criminal penalties for public officials who deliberately thwart the state's public information laws, which guarantee me access to that letter.

The entire theory of Coggins' advice to you is based on an assumption that the school superintendent or somebody else at school headquarters should have broken the law in order to help you board members avoid embarrassment. I find that deeply troubling, coming from a former federal prosecutor, almost as if he believes that circling the wagons and protecting politicians from embarrassment is more important than the law itself.

I find it pretty troubling that all of you, who are sworn by your oaths of office to uphold the law, can sit up there at that stupid dais all night and chew on this issue and never once ask Coggins or yourselves or a school district lawyer what the law is on the release of the letter.

Just to make sure you know, the law is that the letter was supposed to be released. It had to be released. There was no legal basis for not releasing it. Hiding it from me would have been a violation of the law.

So who gave it to me? Coggins told the board that based on his years of experience in the Justice Department he was certain the reporter in question, me, would never say who gave him the letter. Well, let me parse that same point from a slightly different perspective.

The reporter in question, me, knows the law. I know that I have no right whatsoever to defy a judge who wants to know how I got my hands on secret information. But I also know that Coggins, back when he was federal prosecutor, had no right, nor does any judge now, to put me through the ringer over how I got a public document. Because it's public. I am a proud member of the great American public. It's my damn business how I got The Smelker Letter, which I actually think would be a great title for a movie about me.

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22 comments
cynthiarogers178
cynthiarogers178

Am I the only one that has noticed that the last few superintendents, all of which were considered to exemplary in their former districts, could not do anything with DISD???   What should that tell us?  As a taxpayer, I think this board should be taken apart and rebuilt, piece by piece.  I could understand if this was only one individual.  But by my accounts it's three.  If I am incorrect, I apologize.  It seems to me the superintendent becomes the fall guy for all the ongoing discrepancies he uncovers.  As I am very fond of saying, you can only blame others for so long.   Mike Miles did not get DISD in the sorry shape it is in.  THAT TOOK YEARS

texanpatriot
texanpatriot

Finally a superintendent that tries to clean out the rot in DISD and of course the Ross Ave Mafia and their lefty supporters try everything in their arsenal to destroy not only his reputation, but threatens the safety of his family.  The man has a pair and I hope that he stays and finishes the job. As a tax paying citizen of this fair city and a product of a DISD education, it is appalling that the average person cannot deduct that the problem with DISD is Ross Ave. and it's policy of allowing bad teachers, bad principals, and bad administrators to continue to be employed because they fear a highly vocal group of minority citizens that derive their power from the disfunction and collaboration with DISD insiders.  These people don't give a damn about education, it's all about power, influence, and money.  

bbetzen
bbetzen

Reasons Mike Miles must leave Dallas (This posting goes on for 4 different posts due to the damage if Miles stays in DISD.)

By keeping Mike Miles, Dallas ISD will be sending a very negative message to the world about true education reform, and Dallas.

1. DISD will be keeping a leader whose behavior necessitated a $100,000 investigation exposing many unethical actions by him against DISD policy, and against the board itself, actions that would lead to any CEO in the business world being fired.

2. DISD will be keeping a leader who disrespected some of the most respected leading education professionals in DISD, and their record of achievement, pushing them out of their critical leadership positions: http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/08/three-of-our-four-annointed-super-principals-have-been-drummed-out-of-disd.html/

3. DISD will be keeping a leader who has monumental difficulty in hiring and keeping staff who work closest to him. Why are those closest to him leaving? :http://dallasmorningviewsblog.dallasnews.com/2013/05/when-will-disds-revolving-door-end.html/

bbetzen
bbetzen

4. DISD will be keeping a leader who it appears paid some of the closest staff he had conflicts with to keep quiet: http://educationblog.dallasnews.com/2013/09/coggins-report-did-dallas-isd-superintendent-mike-miles-buy-former-communication-chiefs-silence.html/ To date those staff have kept quiet.

5. DISD will be keeping a leader who, ignoring documented histories of achievement, imposed an untested evaluation tool prematurely, evaluating staff without timely opportunities for improvement (time he then requested and received for himself from the Board), decimating teacher and principal numbers with questionable termination threats and actions. A record number of over 1,700 staff have already left DISD: http://keranews.org/post/more-disd-teachers-resigned-year-last-and-some-say-mike-miles-why. More are waiting to leave if Mike Miles stays.

bbetzen
bbetzen

6. DISD will be keeping a leader who, for the first time in history, decreased the percentage of DISD students taking the ACT exam, and did it by 21%! Since 2007 there had been an average 20% annual increase in the number of students taking the ACT. Miles decreased the percentage of Black students in 2013 by 20.9%, and Hispanic students by 24%, but increased the percentage of White students taking the ACT by 0.7%. He then claimed a testing improvement going from 17 to 18 without pointing out the changes in the tested population: http://www.dfpe.org/pdf/Student-Achievement-Data-Does-Not-Support-Retaining-Mike-Miles-091613.pdf

7. DISD will be keeping a leader who was never questioned about the monumental 26% high school enrollment decrease in his Harrison District while he was there with families moving into the district and causing over a 20% increase in elementary enrollment: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/2013/05/damage-by-mike-miles-in-colorado.html

bbetzen
bbetzen

8. DISD will be keeping a leader who is now facing a 5% decrease in 12th grade enrollment in Dallas, the first decrease in DISD senior enrollment since the Class of 2007 set the first of a series of senior all time enrollment records, which were broken every year since 2009 as senior enrollment constantly increased, until now. This sudden decrease in Dallas 12th grade enrollment demands that Dallas study details surrounding 33% decrease in senior enrollment during Mike Miles' 6 years in Colorado.

9. DISD will be keeping a leader who, following the monumental loss of tenured staff his first year, then saw a 26.8% increase in DISD discipline problems. Students had seen the loss of power by their teachers. Mandatory open doors were only part of the message. Students responded. Discipline problems exploded.

Mike Miles must leave! Ethics cannot be compromised without leaving a very bad image for reform!

Mike Miles understands that. He has already sent his family back to Colorado. He sold his Dallas home. Does the DISD Board understand?

Dallas ISD must not allow more of what happened in Colorado under Miles to be repeated in Dallas: http://schoolarchiveproject.blogspot.com/

ebailey75057
ebailey75057

Meanwhile ...

The Houston Independent School District won a prestigious national education prize Wednesday, an award that recognizes gains in student test scores and comes with $550,000 in college scholarships.

Seems Houston's ISD has no issues getting their house in order and improving their childrens test scores. 

epicmale
epicmale

So, Jim, can we taxpayers sue Coggins for a refund?  And while we are at it, can we dock the board members for all the expenses and pay involved in this partisan witch hunt?

Thanks for the continuing look behind the curtain!  Good Job!

crg328
crg328

We'll you wouldn't be able to stand with students on a playground in DISD bc those kids are no longer allowed to go to recess! Jerk.

Filldaddy
Filldaddy

Teachers and admin alike seem kinda like politicians these days, they don't give a crap about what they are there to do, they seem to only focus on keeping their job or increasing their kickbacks and pay. 

Filldaddy
Filldaddy

Fire the teachers, hire scabs, tell the board to STFU and get on with educating the youth of the community without the drama and hoopla.  

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

when the teacher's union alliance aft has multiple robo calls sent all over the county telling people to fire Mike....you can bet that Mike is DOING A GREAT JOB...and the UNIONS are having to put bigtime spin on the failure of the TEACHERS......the robo calls merely made me convinced to ignore the buffoon members of the BOT and to pay attention to PROGRESS, not accusations....John Wiley has the corner on the false accusation market anyway.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

This was a rambling mess. You give yourself far too much credit. The letter was only one small part of the issues discussed at the meeting and the release of the letter is far less important than the crafting of it. Anyone with half a brain realizes that at the very least Miles helped craft the letter and at worst he directed it be written and dictated its contents. If you really obtained the letter through a freedom of information request, please post a copy of it and tell us how you learned of the letter's existence. 

hall16243
hall16243

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Gabe48
Gabe48

@EastDallasDad Post evidence of your spurious claim, or kindly shut the fuck up.  It's quite clear you have some vested interest in this ridiculous sham. This is a witch hunt.  Perhaps you are crazy enough to have convinced yourself the above verbal diarrhea is true, but I'm pretty sure you're just a greedy, evil person. That, or a DMN subscriber. (Same difference?)

Your ilk keep throwing ridiculous accusations, which are proven false, then coming up with new, even more ridiculous accusations.  Throw enough shit, I suppose it's going to stick, eh?

The smell of that shit you and your kind keep throwing is really starting to stick to you. You reek of it, and more and more people are smelling it.

Guesty
Guesty

@EastDallasDad EastDallasDad, it's time to fess up.  You're a teacher, or someone very close to you is a teacher or administrator, and you or your friend hate your boss for being, well, a boss who tells his employees how to do their jobs (i.e. his job).  That is why you and certain board members want him fired.  The rest is just a pretext.  

The original OPR report is bull shit.  Even Coggins couldn't spin any of the accusations into something, not even for $100,000.  I don't know anyone that believes a word in the OPR report except for people who decided Miles should be fired for other reasons long before the OPR report existed.  In other words, you believe it only because you want it to be true.  

As to the Coggins report, the questions are: (1) did Miles caused the Smelker letter to be created; (2) did he cause it to become public; and (3) and if he did either, should that matter?  

No evidence of that exists that Miles caused the Smelkerletter to be written.  Jim seems to have conclusively demonstrated that Smelker meant every word in the letter, and Smelker wanted to take his story public.  Do you have any reason to disagree other than your dislike of Miles?  Why would Smelker, who retired and no longer under anyone's thumb, defend Miles unless he really believes the contents of his letter and wants the community to know that he believes the problem is with the Board and not with Miles?  

No evidence exists that Miles caused the letter to become public.  Jim conclusively demonstrates that Smelker always intended his story to become public, so we have good reason to believe the letter would be made public regardless of how Miles handled it.  

Finally, even if Miles was involved in the creation or public dissemination of the letter, should that matter?  Here is where I think the rubber really meets the road, because the answer to this question tells me everything I need to know about the motivation of the person answering.  Only someone who wants Miles fired for other reasons would conclude that Miles should be fired for making public what his people are telling him about the dysfunction caused by the Boards' management of the DISD.  Board members are elected, and the only way we can have good information on how the Board is performing is if employees of the district tell us when Board members are  hurting the district, which is what Smelker believed and put in his letter.  This is something we, the public, are entitled to know.  As Jim wrote, once Miles had the letter, it was public and belonged to every one of us.  He had no right to hide it, so how can he be fired for letting a public document become public?  And why would anyone want him fired for letting it be known that the actions of the Board are actively hurting the DISD?

rufuslevin
rufuslevin

@hall16243 send your message out to the fired principals and failed Disd teachers...they are not hireable for a real job anyway...maybe they can work the internet other than just Facebook.

EastDallasDad
EastDallasDad

@rufuslevin Did you read the original OPR report? Did you read Coggins' report? Did you attend the meetings where the report findings were discussed? 

There is no question or doubt that Miles violated district policy and the terms of his contract. The only question is whether or not he will be held accountable as any other district employee would be or he receives a pass thanks to the efforts of the Mayor, Todd Williams and the reform PACs.

cynthiarogers178
cynthiarogers178

@EastDallasDad So who are you holding responsible for all the problems before Mike Miles arrived?  I have a student in DISD as well.  Many of those teachers and principles deserved to be terminated, they just assumed that since they were DISD employees  they could hold onto their positions no matter what. 

 
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