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."
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.
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:
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-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.