UPDATE: Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles has raided City Hall and hired the mayor’s Chief of Staff, Paula Blackmon. Her marching orders are to improve relations with elected officials and business leaders.
Blackmon says Superintendent Miles approached her to improve relations with trustees and the public, after she shared some of her own observations.
“There is a gap or maybe even a lapse in communication with one another and I’m hoping I will be able to do that. To sit down and understand what the actual outcome needs to be.”
Blackmon says she was recommended by an un-named mutual friend, adding, it’s not the mayor. In a written statement, Superintendent Miles said Blackmon has “an excellent reputation for building relationships.” She’ll earn $140,000 to do that. It’s the kind of work she’s done for Dallas Mayors Rawlings and Tom Leppert, and previously for the Real Estate Council and several legislators. Blackmon says won’t just work with trustees, but federal, state and local elected officials along with community and business leaders. She says she’s ready for the challenge because education’s important. She sounds just like the boss she’s leaving.
“City hall, when you recruit businesses, the first thing they look at is the school system. It’s amazing. We have kids that are ready to learn and…get them job ready and college-ready. That’s what this is about.”
Blackmon starts her DISD job September 9th, possibly before the final report arrives from former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins. He’s investigating alleged contract and bid interference by Superintendent Miles. But no matter what happens to Miles, DISD spokesperson Jon Dahlander expects Blackmon’s position will be secure.
“We need a position like this, and Paula’s a find. The need is definitely there and again, she’s really good at what she does.”
Dahlander says this is a new position for this administration. It doesn’t replace the Communications Chief, previously held by Rebecca Rodriguez and Jennifer Sprague before her.
Stella M. Chávez is KERA’s immigration/demographics reporter/blogger. Her journalism roots run deep: She spent a decade and a half in newspapers – including seven years at The Dallas Morning News, where she covered education and won the Livingston Award for National Reporting, which is given annually to the best journalists across the country under age 35.