The Dallas school board unanimously approved hiring an independent investigator to look into allegations that superintendent Mike Miles interfered with the district bid process. Former U.S. Attorney Paul Coggins will get up to $100,000 for his work.
Coggins' focus will be whether, after a competitive bidding process, Miles disapproved of a contract winner. Miles' former communications chief, Rebecca Rodriguez, says he tried to change the process to include a preferred contractor. Miles also is accused of trying to stop the district’s own investigation into the matter by its Office of Professional Responsibility. The superintendent denies the allegations.
Coggins will turn in his findings in 30 days. At the board’s request, he’ll also look to see if Miles violated ethics rules or his own contract. The board could extend the investigation if necessary. Trustee Lew Blackburn says the expense is worth it.
“By having the external investigator, we can be assured that the report will be above-board and would not be inhibited by any of our employees," Blackburn says. "The report will be clean, if you will."
And, says board president Eric Cowan, Miles cannot interfere: “He will have to cooperate with the investigation to make sure it’s completed within a timely manner.”
Several trustees suggested Miles should be temporarily relieved of his duties because during the investigation. That did not happen. But Rena Honea wished it had. She leads the Alliance/AFT teacher organization.
“I am disappointed,” Honea says, “the superintendent wasn’t put on administrative leave during the investigation because that’s a practice that would happen to any employees in the district.”
Superintendent Miles did not attend the meeting as he typically does. That’s becaus Cowan asked him not to, saying it would be inappropriate.