Thursday, December 20, 2012

Dallas ISD Trustees not on Audit Committee requested to zip our lips

The updated Internal Audit Services Audit Report with management responses through December 18, 2012 was emailed to Trustees by Superintendent Mike Miles, Wednesday morning - close to 11:00 A.M.

At approximately 2:00 P.M. an email message was received from Board President Lew Blackburn requesting that Trustees who are not members of the Audit Committee refrain from asking any questions or making any comments at the meeting.

This appeared to be an attempt to exclude certain Board members from the discussion. In other words, some Trustees would now have rights superior to other Trustees. 

My email response was that all elected Trustees have a right to ask questions and make comments at any duly called meeting posted under the Texas Open Meetings Act.

This was the first attempt by a Board President to deny a Trustee's right to ask questions or make comments at any meeting of Dallas ISD in the six and one-half years I have served. 

It has always been understood that any Trustee has the right to participate during any committee meeting but only committee members can vote.

As it stands now the Internal Audit Services Audit Report has been referred to the full board for further action.

My view remains that the Administrator Mike Miles seriously violated and abused his authority under the written 'Administrator Services Agreement' between April 27 and June 30, 2012. 

The Texas Education Code does not allow an Administrator who is not even an employee of the District to order around or 'direct' the Interim Superintendent. No such authority was given to him.
"Technically, the Interim Superintendent was signing the paperwork, but I made no secret that I was directing that effort." (Statement Regarding the Draft Audit Report - December 19, 2012)

Every time Administrator Mike Miles directed Interim Superintendent Alan King to do anything, he was undermining a state law - the Texas Education Code - by usurping the sole authority of the Interim Superintendent to manage the district until July 1, 2012.

The Internal Audit Services Audit Report called it "undue influence."

There is no Administrator Mike Miles in the Texas Education Code - only a Superintendent. There was no Superintendent Mike Miles until July 1, 2012.

Even the Interim Superintendent could not authorize hiring certain personnel without Board approval. The Interim Superintendent did not have a contract or other delegation to him of the Board's final authority to approve top staff.

 Texas Education Code
Sec. 11.1513.  EMPLOYMENT POLICY. (a) The board of trustees of each independent school district shall adopt a policy providing for the employment and duties of district personnel.  The employment policy must provide that:
(1)  the board employs and evaluates the superintendent;
(2)  the superintendent has sole authority to make recommendations to the board regarding the selection of all personnel other than the superintendent, except that the board may delegate final authority for those decisions to the superintendent; and
(3)  each principal must approve each teacher or staff appointment to the principal's campus as provided by Section 11.202.
(b)  The board of trustees may accept or reject the superintendent's recommendation regarding the selection of district personnel and shall include the board's acceptance or rejection in the minutes of the board's meeting, as required under Section 551.021, Government Code, in the certified agenda or tape recording required under Section 551.103, Government Code, or in the recording required under Section 551.125 or 551.127, Government Code, as applicable.  If the board rejects the superintendent's recommendation, the superintendent shall make alternative recommendations until the board accepts a recommendation.

Board policies DC (Legal) and DC (Local)-appear to have been violated

DC (Legal) - The Board may accept or reject the Superintendent‟s recommendation regarding the selection of District personnel.
DC (Local) -  The Board shall assign to the Human Resource Services Department the responsibility to oversee, manage, and monitor a personnel
recruitment program ...If the Board rejects the Superintendent‟s recommendation, the Superintendent shall make alternative recommendations until the Board accepts a recommendation. Texas Education Code 11.1513

Between April 27 and June 30, 2012, none of the personnel actions of the Administrator Mike Miles or those of the Interim Superintendent - who had no delegation of 'final authority' - were ever approved by the Board.

The Superintendent had a press conference immediately after the brief Audit Committee meeting which referred further discussion and action to the full board. It is his right to do so.

The Board of Trustees had not been informed that such a press conference would be held.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: RE: management's response
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 1:56 P.M.
From: Blackburn, Lew
To: Miles, Mike, Medrano, Adam, Bernadette Nutall, Nutall, Bernadette , Carla Ranger , Dan Micciche, Lew Blackburn , Elizabeth Jones , Cowan, Eric, Morath, Mike , Nancy Bingham
CC: Elrod, John R, Smisko, Ann, Glover, Charles, Sprague, Jennifer , Smelker, Kevin , Solis, Miguel E, Reyna, Sylvia, Sonya D. Hoskins

We need to proceed cautiously with this matter, as it is of great public interest.  The board needs to be prudent with its procedures and processes.  The public needs to see that the Board of Trustees, and the Superintendent, is capable of conducting business in a professional manner.

In accordance with Board Policy BDB(Local), "The purpose of the audit committee is to assist the Board of Trustees in fulfilling its oversight responsibilities for the financial reporting process, the system of internal control, the audit process, and the District’s process for monitoring compliance with laws and regulations and the code of conduct."  As such, we must give the Audit Committee full opportunity to complete its task.  Trustees Cowan, Morath, and Micciche are capable of performing their duties responsibly.

The Audit Committee will discuss the report today, as the initial report began with the committee.  After their discussion today, I suspect the report will be forwarded to the Board of Trustees with recommendations for further review, and action.  The Audit Committee WILL NOT make any final decisions about employees of the district as a result of the report. 

I am asking that trustees who are not on the Audit Committee to refrain from asking questions and commenting during the Audit Committee meeting.  I understand your eagerness to discuss this and get to a final resolution.  Thus, I will schedule a Called Board meeting in January for further discussion and review of the audit report, and to possibly take actionThis will be the time for trustees to ask questions relating to the audit report.

Mike Miles,
I am asking that you and your staff also follow prudent procedures and processes.  Not doing so compromises the integrity of the Audit Committee process.  Forward further comments and documents relating to this matter to Eric Cowan, Chair of the Audit Committee. 

With Regards for Children,

Lew Blackburn, Ph.D.
President, Board of Trustees
Dallas ISD

Vision: Dallas ISD seeks to be a premier urban school district.
Mission: Educating all students for success

 -------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: management's response
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 3:41 P.M.
From: Carla Ranger <>
To: Blackburn, Lew
CC: Miles, Mike, Medrano, Adam, Bernadette Nutall, Bernadette, Dan Micciche, Lew Blackburn, Elizabeth Jones, Cowan, Eric, Morath, Mike, Nancy Bingham, Elrod, John R, Smisko, Ann, Glover, Charles, Sprague, Jennifer, Smelker, Kevin, Solis, Miguel E, Reyna, Sylvia, Sonya D. Hoskins

Good afternoon,

The Board President has no authority to request, demand, order or deny any duly elected Trustee representing over 100,000 citizens their right to ask questions at any duly called
meeting under the Texas Open Meetings Act and Roberts Rules of Order.

From: Miles, Mike
Sent: Wednesday, December 19, 2012 10:57 AM
To: Medrano, Adam; Bernadette Nutall; Nutall, Bernadette; Carla Ranger; Dan Micciche; Elizabeth Jones; Cowan, Eric; Blackburn, Lew; Morath, Mike; Nancy Bingham
Cc: Elrod, John R; Smisko, Ann; Glover, Charles; Sprague, Jennifer; Smelker, Kevin; Solis, Miguel E; Reyna, Sylvia
Subject: management's response


On Monday, my team and I received the 2nd draft of the audit report on the Superintendent’s transition.  The major difference is that now the report claims I violated my service agreement (instead of some policies) that I signed with the Board on 26 April.  I have attached that service agreement for your understanding. 

The report includes most of management’s response, but it is curious that some paragraphs from our original response are deleted and other paragraphs are moved around.  The report also combines several original management responses, which makes both the report and response hard to follow [the report on its own is very hard to follow].  In any case, so that you have the management’s response the way we wrote it, I have attached it.


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-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: management response
Date: Wed, 19 Dec 2012 9:28 A.M.
From: Carla Ranger
To: Cowan, Eric
CC: Miles, Mike, Elrod, John R, Harris, Denoris B, Proctor, Delisa L

Good morning,

Reminder ...

Please send a copy of the audit report with responses
when you receive it.

Thank you.