Randy McIlwain, NBC 5 News
Dallas Independent School District trustees will meet to discuss whether or not to hire a former U.S. Attorney to look into whether Superintendent Mike Miles violated district policy.
The Dallas school board is discussing whether to hire an outside investigator to look into the superintendent and a six-figure contract proposal.
Dallas Independent School District trustees are meeting Monday night to decide whether to hire former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins to determine if Superintendent Mike Miles violated district policy.
Last month, a formal complaint was filed with the district's Office of Professional Responsibility about a $220,000 proposal for programs to get parents more involved in their children's education.
The district's former head of communications, Rebecca Rodriguez, whose office was to oversee the program, revealed that she knew nothing about the proposal and that Miles had discussed the matter with other administrators.
Rodriguez abruptly resigned last month, after working just a few weeks for the district.
DISD's Office of Professional Responsibility issued a report accusing Miles of interfering in the investigation of the contract proposal and recommended an independent investigator.
The cost of the investigation is not to exceed $250,000 without board approval and will come from the district's operating funds.
In a statement released Sunday, Miles defended his actions and denied any wrongdoing:
First, I want to say that this incomplete report should not be in the public domain. In my mind, that’s unfair to Rebecca Rodriguez, members of her former staff and everyone who has been interviewed so far; each person believed that his/her statements would be confidential and protected until a full review had been completed and a conclusion reached. That’s what the Office of Professional Responsibility assures every employee or associate when a complaint is filed.
Second, my statement speaks for itself. It is my responsibility to make the final determination on procurement recommendations to the Board of Trustees. The committee makes a recommendation that is supposed to be determined on specific guidelines, and my responsibility and duty is to assure that we hire the vendor or vendors who will serve our children best and who can present the best business deal for the taxpayers.
Third, as my response reflects, after discussion with our legal department, I considered a suspension of the OPR investigation for a short time because we were in negotiations with the former employee, and those negotiations would likely include confidentiality agreements. The request was, in effect, a “stand-down” move while the attorneys determined if an OPR public report would violate the terms of the non-disparage agreement. I asked for the restart of the investigation, and I recommended the Board President consider an outside review and final conclusion of the matter.
In summary, the RFP process and vote delay was absolutely correct and the final decision on a vendor or vendors must be made on the basis of, “What’s best for the children and the taxpayers?” Second, the OPR investigation was briefly halted when negotiations on Ms. Rodriguez’s employment were underway. They were then restarted, at my request. Third, I would ask all involved to respect the rights of any person or persons involved in an OPR examination. Confidential information should remain confidential in order to protect people who work for the district or do business with the district.
The school district is also still looking to hire teachers for the fall. At last count, they needed at least 700 teachers.
About 200 of those teachers are Spanish-language teachers from other countries whose work visas have expired.
NBC 5's Randy McIlwain contributed to this report.