Houston, Texas (KTRK) – This is the first full week for Houston’s new ISD director, Mike Miles.
Education Commissioner Mike Morath appointed him on June 1 as part of the state’s takeover of HISD.
And while he replaced Millard House II as district leader, House had what Miles didn’t: a valid state certificate from the Texas Education Agency.
Miles was certified between 2013 and 2018 but has since become inactive. During a phone call with ABC13 on Monday, Miles said he would not seek to reactivate the certification.
Instead, he said, the region will seek a waiver from TEA if it has not already done so.
Tell TEA ABC13 the following:
“If a waiver of certification is required for the ISD principal in Houston, it will be granted as it is for other school systems. In the case of Superintendent Miles, he has already successfully led the ISD Institute of Texas and Texas Public Charter Schools to identify minimum training needs, and has Already exceeded any competencies covered by the certification.”
Miles echoed this assessment of his qualifications on our phone call. He is a former Colorado and Dallas superintendent.
“While a piece of paper is not unimportant, what’s most important is getting results. It’s the ability to lead, to have a vision, to make the tough decisions that others won’t,” Miles said.
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A lack of certification leads to rounds with HISD and the Texas educational community. ABC13 spoke on Monday with the executive director of the Texas Professional Teachers Association, who said their concern is not Miles’ qualifications. They have other issues.
“The most important thing is that we no longer have any locally elected members of the school board, so I’m not sure where the local accountability to voters is,” said Shannon Holmes.
Miles undoubtedly qualify. He graduated from West Point in 1978 and has additional degrees from UC Berkeley and Columbia University. Before entering education, he worked for the US Department of State.
However, the president of the Houston Teachers Union says it has more to do with optics than actual certification.
“It’s kind of hypocritical to go in and talk about how you want to make things better,” said Jackie Anderson. “And you want the best, and you want that, and you don’t take the time to make sure your certification is up to date.”
Miles was accredited in Colorado and served as a supervisor there before coming to Texas in 2012, where he served as a supervisor for the Dallas ISD Institute. He started working there in July 2012.
The board expected him to earn his degree at that time, but then granted him a six-month extension. He did not meet that deadline, despite receiving his degree in May 2013. He became inactive in 2018.
An area seeking a supervisor certification waiver is not uncommon, but it is not unusual. According to data from TEA — since 2009, the state has awarded 40 honorable mention waivers. These include Alief ISD last year, Fort Bend ISD in 2016, North Forest ISD in 2013, and Pasadena in 2017.