DALLAS — Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles is officially accused of breaking district rules, then attempting to shut down an internal investigation.
On Monday night, the DISD Board of Trustees unanimously approved hiring an outside investigator to dig into allegations of bid-rigging.
The allegations stem from a June 13 board meeting in which Miles made the surprise move of tabling an item involving a vendor contract.
The next day, one of his top deputies — then Communications Chief Rebecca Rodriguez — filed a complaint with internal investigators suggesting Miles violated district policy by freezing the contract because it was not being awarded to a "favored vendor."
But two weeks later, Miles halted that internal investigation and ordered all the evidence turned over to him.
Over the weekend, the allegations were made public.
"The allegations are bid-rigging, essentially, and obstruction of justice or obstructing an investigation — that's about as serious as it gets," said Dallas attorney David Finn. Finn, a former state and federal prosecutor, is familiar with the allegations and fully supports the proposal now in front of trustees.
The trustees voted Monday night to hire private attorney Paul Coggins to head up the probe. He has plenty of experience in getting to the truth.
"Paul brings the highest ethical reputation," Finn said. "He's a Rhodes Scholar; he was the U.S. Attorney in Dallas for the Northern District for seven years under President Clinton. If anybody can get to the bottom of this, it's Paul Coggins."
As a U.S. Attorney in the 1990s, Coggins prosecuted corrupt contractors at DISD and even put one DISD superintendent, Yvonne Gonzalez, in jail.
In 2007, as a private practice attorney, Coggins was called on to conduct an investigation into credit card abuses at DISD. That report resulted in the prosecution of at least two district employees.
Trustees say they are willing to spend an initial $250,000 on the external investigation, and they are prepared to spend more.
What that says to former prosecutor Finn is that board members are taking these allegations very seriously.
Miles has been asked to cooperate and to avoid interference with the investigation.