Critic calls allegations against Dallas ISD chief 'as serious as it gets'

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by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 19, 2013 at 6:54 PM

Updated Saturday, Jul 20 at 9:25 AM

DALLAS - A chief critic of DISD Superintendent Mike Miles says he sees a troubling trend. 

For the second time in less than a year, Miles is accused of violating district policy. Only this time, he says it appears to be much more serious.

"The superintendent, I believe, truly feels he is above the law, above the rules and regulations, above district policy," said Michael MacNaughton, DISD watchdog and member of DISD's Citizen's Budget Review Commission.

McNaughton is referring to the contract award scandal enveloping Miles. In a meeting on June 13, Miles suddenly scrapped the contract award to Practical Parent Education of McKinney, which had been selected by an evaluation committee as the best bidder for a parental education contract.

When Communications Director Rebecca Rodriguez blew the whistle to internal investigators over what she felt was a policy violation, Miles ordered the investigation stopped. Two weeks later, Rodriguez resigned. Board members are expected to hire an outside investigator to resume the probe when they meet in a special session called for Monday night.

"Of course, if it rises to the level of interfering with the procurement process in a governmental entity, it cannot get much more serious than that," MacNaughton said.

Yet, McNaughton says taxpayers should not be shocked. He points to the December 2012 internal DISD audit report that accused Miles of a variety of policy violations just weeks after he arrived. The audit found three professional service contracts were incomplete and uncovered a possible fictitious invoice for one of Miles' new hires.

Clock-in procedures were also not followed, according to the audit.

"As a result of our review, we determined normal operational procedures were not followed in some cases during and after the transition phase of Superintendent Miles," determined Interim Internal Auditor LaNita Ray.

With respect to what happened June 13, DISD policy reads "bid proposals shall be opened at the time specified and all proposers shall be invited to attend."

Officials with Practical Parent Education of McKinney says it was never invited to the bid opening and never knew it had been selected as the best bidder. To this day, they say they have never been officially contacted by the district.

MacNaughton says he hopes board members have the courage to push for the truth.

"If they approve that investigation it needs to be done as quickly as possible," MacNaughton said. "We can't afford to wait 12 months for the end of this kind of investigation."

Through a spokesman, Miles denied any wrong doing.

DISD Board President Eric Cowan supports the external investigation that will be voted on Monday night.

"No employee, even the superintendent, has the right to stop an investigation," he said.

Email bshipp@wfaa.com

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