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Controversial Dallas School District Superintendent Resigns

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Mike Miles, the controversial superintendent of the Dallas Independent School District (ISD), announced his resignation in a press conference held on Tuesday morning.

He said, “I have decided that now is the time where I can step aside as superintendent knowing that the work will continue.”

Miles joined the district in 2012. He said, at the time, that Dallas ISD stood “ready for change.” Now that the foundation of reforms he enacted, such Destination 2020, was cemented, he felt he could step aside and reunite with his family in Colorado.

“I have been here for three years, two of them without my family,” he emphasized. “It’s time to return to Colorado.”

He added that his son enters high school in the fall. Previously, the Dallas Morning News reported that although Miles pledged to finish the job he started, his family returned to Colorado Springs in 2013.

During the presser, Miles called “educating children the most important work of our time” and said that “until every single kid is college and career ready this district cannot rest.”

His resignation precedes the school board approving their 2015-16 budget, which includes money for many of Miles’ reform efforts. These include new teacher and principal evaluations, which he considers the most rigorous in the nation. He has also been criticized for flat annual state testing STAAR scores.

Miles, however, may not be remembered for his reforms, but for his high-profile battles with school board members over management decisions that resulted in trustees’ repeated attempts to fire him.

Breitbart Texas reported on the myriad of Dallas ISD scandals under Miles’ watch. In 2015, this included ousting two top district administrators for misconduct plus a fracas in which an independent report cleared the name of a board trustee falsely accused of harassment.

The relationship between the school board and Miles was nothing short of contentious, fraught with in-fighting. Last year, the district brought in a consultant to ease tensions between the nine-member board and its superintendent.

Breitbart Texas reported on several other controversies that marred Miles’ tenure, including a 2014 athletic department recruiting debacle that ended with the firing of 15 employees. An investigation found that coaches and their assistants falsified the student residency documentation that allowed athletes to play on teams in the district.

In 2013, the school board called for an independent investigation, that cleared Miles of wrongdoing in the handling of a service contract. But the review found that Miles, who denied wrongdoing, had violated district policy by talking to witnesses during an initial probe.

On top of all the administrative strife, the Dallas ISD community locked horns on a failed shift from a traditional school district to home-rule charter governance, something intended to affect positive change in the district.

The Dallas Morning News attributed much of Miles’ primary governance struggles to an inability “to make an education management style developed at a district less than a tenth the size of Dallas work in the larger setting.”

Miles served for six years as superintendent of the much smaller Harrison School District in Colorado Springs before coming to Dallas ISD, the second largest school district in Texas and the 12th largest in the nation.

Yet, through it all, as superintendent, Miles prevailed, despite a vote by some school board members to fire him as recently as in May.

Previously, WFAA-8 reported that Miles wanted three amendments to his contract, including that board members would follow their own policy, not actively search for another superintendent while Miles was still there, and he could access all the money of his contract now rather than wait for 2017. A board member told the local ABC news affiliate that Miles had a two-year extension to his contract but can walk away.

Miles claimed no knowledge during the press conference of severance package details being negotiated. He confirmed that he will stay through the next board meeting on Thursday, June 25, before leaving, and then introduced Dr. Ann Smisko, Deputy Superintendent, as his interim replacement. Formerly with the Texas Education Agency (TEA), Smisko has been with the district leadership team since 2012.  

Follow Merrill Hope on Twitter @OutOfTheBoxMom.


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