DISD Bans Teachers from Driving School Buses, Further Endearing Mike Miles to DISD's Rank-and-File

A rough approximation of how Dallas ISD's bus-driving teachers are feeling right about now.
A rough approximation of how Dallas ISD's bus-driving teachers are feeling right about now.

Update at 3:31 p.m.: DISD spokesman Jon Dahlander called to tell us we -- and Brett Shipp -- got it all wrong. "This was not a Mike Miles decision," he says. "This is a decision that was made by the operations department of our school district."

As for why: "It had been brought to our attention that in at least one instance, and perhaps two, there was ... an individual who was billing the district and the county for the same time. As a result, we put in safeguards to keep it from happening."

Most of the bus driving teachers were doing their jobs, and the district regrets their loss of income, but the decision impacts 37 out of around 20,000 employees. And once again, Dahlander says, it was not Mike Miles' fault. "He gets blamed for everything these days."

Original post: Dallas ISD superintendent Mike Miles hasn't done a great job of endearing himself to teachers during his first year and a half on the job. Much of this was to be expected, preordained by Miles' reputation as a hard-charging reformer bent on implementing a controversial pay-for-performance plan and canning bad teachers.

Often, however, it seems as if he's not even trying, or, if he is, that he's doing so in such a clumsy way that it doesn't matter. To name just a couple of the most recent examples, he sent a letter to some 150 Texas school districts asking them not to hire DISD teachers for the coming school year and appointed former trustee Edwin Flores, who only stopped being teachers' arch-nemesis when Miles came on board, to head performance pay implementation.

And yesterday, Miles gave three dozen teachers one more reason to revile him. WFAA's Brett Shipp reports that DISD just adopted a new policy barring its teachers from driving school buses for Dallas County schools. Thirty-seven teaching bus drivers were given an ultimatum on Tuesday giving them 48 hours to decide which job they wanted more.

"It's kind of a shock to me that I'd be handed a piece of paper like this," Freddy Leal, who makes $52,000 per year as a PE teacher, told Shipp. "I would have thought I'd put more into the county to get a little more respect than to be handed a piece of paper saying you need to make a decision by Thursday."

Leal's been driving the bus for a decade, almost the entire time he's been with DISD. It brings in an extra $20,000 in annual income, and it's never been an issue before.

We've emailed district spokesman Jon Dahlander seeking a copy of the new policy and background on what prompted it. Shipp offers that driving a bus means teachers can put in only eight hours, rather than eight-and-a-half.

"We have to put our kids first," DISD operations director Wanda Paul told WFAA. "Teaching and teachers being in the building is our first order of business."

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