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Dallas School Investigation Into Human Resources Scandal May Continue

Bill Zeeble
Dallas Superintendent Mike Miles apologized to his board Monday night after two top Human Capital Management leaders were forced out dut to their embarrassing, belittling behavior

UPDATE: A Dallas schools investigation into an executive with a criminal background continues, and so may a Human Resources audit, even though that department  chief resigned three weeks ago. During Monday’s late night board meeting, trustees discussed the HR scandal and the response by superintendent Mike Miles.

It was the trustees’ first public meeting to discuss the scandal tied to instant messages from Human Capital Management Chief Carmen Darville. She and director Jose Munoz were forced to resign over the emails described as racist, discriminatory, false and insulting to the district and its employees. School Board First Vice President Lew Blackburn wants the investigation to continue, despite the resignations.

“If the type of conversation was going on between two people and maybe three people, there may be others,” Blackburn reasoned. “I would hope we would look deeper than just the top person and one of her lieutenants.  We have not gotten to the roots.”

The infamous instant messages were uncovered during another investigation into another HR executive, Tonya Sadler Grayson. That investigation continues, says chief auditor Mike Singleton. Grayson is accused of failing to divulge a decades-old criminal record as required.

“We’ll  make every effort to complete that as soon as possible,” Singleton said. “Second, we’ve already started the beginnings of an audit on some of the information we’ve found from this material. There rest of it, we’re going to have to evaluate that over the next several weeks to determine what will be under our scope of work.”

Trustee Elizabeth Jones ways it’ll be worth it, because a deeper investigation could assess possible damage to the district if Darville’s victims sue DISD.

“Because they were discriminated against, because they were racially slurred, because they were otherwise brought to termination on false pretenses and on and on and on,” Jones said.

Superintendent Mike Miles apologized to the board. Trustee Eric Cowan criticized him for offering severance packages worth $100,000.

“These instant messages are embarrassing, unprofessional, and we talk about the good that was done in HCM,” Cowan said, “but these missteps somewhat diminish that great work.”

Miles said he will make changes to improve Human Capital Management. For now, the district has hired interim HCM chief Karry Chapman, a veteran HR manager who came out of retirement three years ago to do a similar job at Irving ISD

Mike Miles, the superintendent of Dallas public schools, apologized Monday night for the actions of his two two top human resources executives, who were forced to resign. 

Many of their instant email messages were racist and insulting, making fun of employees’ age, religion, appearance and job performance.

“I apologize that those messages have been written, I apologize that we had a couple leaders who wrote those things,” Miles said.  “I, the superintendent,  apologize to this board, to the staff, to our teachers and to the community which expects us to have higher standards.”  

Last night’s six-and-a-half-hour board meeting was the first time trustees publicly discussed the scandal that led to the resignations of Carmen Darville, the district's chief of human capital management, and director Jose Munoz on Jan. 29. Board member Elizabeth Jones was livid about the manager’s behavior and combined settlements exceeding $100,000.

“We talk about the standards for performance,” Jones said,  “and yet here we’re rewarding people who ultimately harm a district, subject us to incredible liability, embarrass us and yet we think it’s okay to pay them money, allow them to resign, not fire them.”

Board members used other words to express their feelings, from “appalled” to “outraged.”

Trustees criticized the school district's investigation as well. Internal auditor Mike Singleton looked into the actions of those who resigned, but never told the board. Singleton works for the trustees.

The district also chose veteran human resources manager Karry Chapman as the interim leader of human capital management. Chapman just finished two years in a similar role with Irving school district. 

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