Mark Schnyder, NBC 5 News
Members of True Lee Missionary Baptist Church in Dallas welcomed Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles to the pulpit to speak.
Dallas ISD Superintendent Mike Miles drew praise and protest at the same Dallas church Sunday morning.
County Commissioner John Wiley Price had called on pastors throughout the area not to let Miles come speak in their churches, but True Lee Missionary Baptist invited him anyway.
From inside the church you could hear the two dozen protesters across the street chanting.
"Mike Miles is a bully. Mike Miles is a bully. Mike Miles is a bully," said one of the chants. They didn’t want Superintendent Miles to talk about his vision, explain his decisions and answer questions in the church.
Dallas ISD parent Robert Jones was among those chanting and carrying signs.
"He's just moving too fast,” says Jones. “And with that me being a parent. I'm trying to teach my kids how to be fair and he's not being fair."
"He's taking away some of the best, most creative teachers who are leaving, not because he pushed them out,” explains retired Dallas ISD teacher Bill Betzen. “They are the ones who are leaving because they don't like what is happening."
Inside the church more than 200 people welcomed Miles. They challenged him and wanted listen to what he had to say. One of the big complaints, letting go certain teachers and principals who parents and students have known for years. Last week, Miles announced that 50 of the district's 223 campuses will have new principals next school year. Hundreds of teachers may also be fired.
"I try not to criticize critics that much because I understand that's what schools are about. It's about community,” said Superintendent Miles. “But it's also about expectations and part of my job is to raise expectations."
Miles said "percentage-wise" not that many people are being let go. He said most principals and teachers are doing excellent work. When challenged about not communicating well, he took a jab at the protesters outside.
"It seems strange to be accused of not communicating or collaborating and then have people say don't come to talk," he said. “It seems contradictory.”
Miles talked for an hour.
On the fact he’s not handling things the way some in the community would like, Miles said, “The fact we don’t do what one group wants or can’t agree with one group doesn’t mean we’re not listening. There’s way too many groups to do what everybody wants.”
We asked long-time church member Brenda Cash if she was glad Miles was invited to her church.
"Yes, I am,” said Cash. “I'm very happy that we have an open pastor and he likes to see both sides."
Miles says he's trying to create a culture of accountability at Dallas ISD. Taxpayers are trying to do the same with him.