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Dallas School Board Extends Contract of Superintendent Mike Miles

Bill Zeeble
The DISD school board back in session at 3:15 a.m. Tuesday.

Early this morning, the Dallas school board voted to extend the contract of Superintendent Mike Miles through July 1st, 2017. Miles won't get a raise but will now be allowed to consult.  The closed session lasting nine hours may have set a Dallas school district record. It began a little past 5:30 p.m. Monday and trustees didn't emerge until almost 2:45 a.m. Tuesday. They then had an additional hour of open discussion.

The contract extends the old one by two years. Miles will no longer be prohibited from consulting, but cannot work for his own business. Allowed to consult eight days a year, he will have to use his vacation, then donate all fees to the district. His $300,000 salary will not change.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
The closed doors behind which DISD trustees sat for a marathon meeting to discuss Superintendent Mike Miles' contract.

Trustee Lew Blackburn didn't mind the contract but objected to the process and timing. He said since Miles insisted on evaluating teachers and principals before extending their contracts, the same should apply to the superintendent.

“But yet in this case, for our number one employee, evaluation is put aside,” Blackburn said.

Board member Dan Micciche was sympathetic to the argument, but not convinced. He said trustees had just spent hours going through information on Miles and could evaluate him.

"Given the amount of time and energy we've spent looking at this data, the ability to make the decision on whether or not to extend the contract, we have protected the district and we have thoroughly looked through all the evaluation criteria, Micciche said."  

Trustee Elizabeth Jones wanted everyone to get some sleep, then revisit the contract another day. Board President Miguel Solis, though,  defended the marathon session.

Credit Bill Zeeble / KERA News
Superintendent Mike Miles' attorney walks ahead of him after a marathon closed door session meeting in the Dallas ISD administration building.

"It warranted a long discussion,” Solis said. “We needed to have a discussion about the superintendent's achievement to date and also the vision we have for the future of this school system.”

That future includes reforms Miles has begun putting in place. There's leadership training, a recently passed teacher evaluation plan, and extra funds aimed at some of the district's poorest and poorest performing schools. Acceptance of these reforms marks a turnaround from a year ago, when Miles was under investigation for breaking laws and policies. Despite violations, he kept his job and went on probation. Miles argued for the contract extension in closed session.

"I think the board recognized that reform and transformation takes time,” Miles explained. “You can't flip a switch. And we're going to continue to move forward on Destination 2020 and the tough reforms that we've started."

 Then, Miles said it was time to go home to get some sleep. 

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