Typically, a $219,700 contract aimed at boosting parent engagement would sail past Dallas ISD's Board of Trustees with barely a murmur. It represents, after all, a vanishingly small speck of the district's $1.2 billion budget, and its goal -- getting parents involved in their children's education -- is hardly controversial. But this is Mike Miles' DISD, where every topic, no matter how mundane, carries with it the potential for a bare-knuckled brawl.
The details of the imbroglio surrounding the parent education services contract were sketchy at first. We knew only that Rebecca Rodriguez, all of three months on the job as DISD's communications chief, abruptly resigned after the topic was discussed at a June board meeting, and that trustees were looking into hiring an outside investigator to look into her claims of improprieties.
Rodriguez, according to the report, which is posted below, accused Miles of pulling the parent services contract for special discussion during June 13 board briefing because he wasn't pleased that district staff had recommended awarding it to Practical Parent Education, a McKinney company, rather than The Concilio, which The Dallas Morning News links to Commit, one of the big names backing school reform in Dallas generally and Miles' efforts in particular.
According to the report, Miles then tried to squelch the Office of Professional Responsibility's investigation "for the good of the District," making it clear that he feels he should have final say over the office's operations.
The evidence that Miles manipulated the procurement process is inconclusive, but there's good reason to give credence to Rodriguez's claims. She's also a veteran of local government, having worked for the city of Arlington for several years. She has a solid grasp of how government contracts are supposed to work.
It's also hard to fathom what motivation she would have to sabotage her new, high-paying position after just three months by making up accusations against her boss. On the other side of the equation, it's relatively easy to imagine why Miles would want a contract awarded to some of his most ardent supporters.
This probably won't have a lasting impact on Miles. The charges are serious, more so than other complaints that have been leveled against him, because they violate district policy, not to mention basic ethical guidelines. But none of this rises to the level of criminal offense and it merely confirms what we know or suspect about Miles: that he envisions himself more as the CEO of a private company than a public official bound by the constraints of government.
His opponents still hate him for that and will use this investigation as ammunition, but this is just an extension of the reasons why he was hired in the first place.