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DISD Names Lone Finalist

DISD lone Superintendent finalist Mike Miles, at lecturn
Sujata Dand
DISD lone Superintendent finalist Mike Miles, at lecturn

The Dallas School Board has picked Mike Miles to be the district’s next Superintendent. KERA’s Bill Zeeble reports the former Army Ranger and U.S. Diplomat has been the superintendent in Colorado Springs since 2006.

Fifty five year–old Mike Miles, born to Japanese mother and African American father, says he’s a public servant. That’s what he does. After graduating West Point in 1978, he became an Army Ranger. He went on to the U.S. State Department, then returned to Colorado Springs where he started as a high school teacher, and worked his way up.

With this hire, he ends his 6-year tenure there as Harrison School District Two’s Superintendent. Miles says children are the public he serves these days because teachers helped him as an at-risk child. One of 8 in a poor family, he had a speech problem early on.

Miles: Two teachers took me by the hand when I was in 1st grade and said we are going to teach you to speak well and you’re going to do that, and that has made all the difference. That has made all the difference for me.

Official DISD Release Colorado Springs School District

Miles has been praised and blasted in Colorado Springs for forcing change in one of the state’s worst school systems. It has improved thanks in part to a teacher pay-for-performance plan tied to student achievement. Critics meanwhile, created the Facebook Page: Mike Miles – Get Him Out. Miles says he’s a reformer. Over the years, he says others tried - but failed - to lure him away. Not this time.

Miles: I knew they were a board focused on kids. Focused on doing everything they can for our students in Dallas and I knew that they had made some tough decisions and were ready to continue reform efforts.

Miles calls the Dallas School District “good,” with a lot to do before getting to “great.” That’s his goal. School Board President Lew Blackburn says trustees see Mike Miles as a good fit.

Blackburn: I think that he might be a little uncomfortable with any of our employees who are not working towards the goal of having this school district be the best in the nation.

Dallas Mayor Rawlings says he heard good things about Miles.

Rawlings: He’s a proven leader. I believe he has shown throughout his career as a Ranger, as a Diplomat and the school system, that he knows how to lead and create change.

State law requires a 21-day period before Miles officially becomes Dallas’s superintendent. The DISD Trustee vote was 8 to 0. Carla Ranger abstained.

Bill Zeeble has been a full-time reporter at KERA since 1992, covering everything from medicine to the Mavericks and education to environmental issues.