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Houston ISD superintendent accused of funneling tax dollars out of state

In World
May 15, 2024

A state lawmaker and Houston teachers are calling for Houston Independent School District Superintendent Mike Miles to be investigated after a Spectrum News report revealed that millions in Texas public school tax dollars may have been funneled to a failing school in his Colorado charter school system.

These findings come less than two weeks after the state-appointed administrator announced a $450 million gap in funding at HISD — resulting in districtwide layoffs for the upcoming school year.

A Texas Education Agency spokesperson said agency officials are “aware of the report and are reviewing the matter.”

Miles did not respond to a request from The Texas Tribune for comment on Tuesday.

In March 2023, TEA Commissioner Mike Morath took over the district with a temporary board of trustees. The stated rationale was because of misconduct by the HISD board of trustees and the poor performance rating of Phyllis Wheatley High School. Three months later, Morath appointed Miles, the former superintendent of Dallas ISD, as HISD’s superintendent.

Spectrum News reported on Monday that the Third Future Schools charter school network, based in Colorado and founded by Miles, was using funds from the network’s Odessa school to offset losses at its Aurora, Colorado school. Miles’ sister now runs Third Future Schools.

Spectrum also reported that Miles received $40,000 last year consulting for Third Future Schools, which was dealing with deep financial setbacks leading to the closure of a Colorado school and $5 million in unpaid debt.

Third Future Schools was created in 2016 after Miles left the superintendent’s job at Dallas ISD. The charter school chain expanded into Texas in 2020, opening three schools in Odessa, Midland and Austin. The Texas expansion, according to Spectrum News, occurred about the time the Colorado schools were showing signs of financial distress.

By the end of 2023, the Texas schools had already accumulated more than $2.5 million dollars in debt, Spectrum News reported in its monthslong investigation.

The news outlet reported that the three Texas schools received $25 million in taxpayer dollars. About $15 million went to teachers and staff. But another $10 million was listed by Third Future Schools as unspecified administrative costs. Subsequent public documents obtained by Spectrum News revealed that more than $2 million went from Third Future Schools’ Texas operation to help cover losses at a Colorado school.

In a letter addressed to Morath, State Rep. Ana Hernandez, D-Houston, urged the state agency to conduct an investigation to clarify whether Texas public school tax dollars had been sent out of state.

“These alleged actions cast doubt on his ability to lead HISD and his commitment to providing the best education for our students,” Hernandez told The Tribune. “Texans deserve transparency, accountability, and responsiveness.”

Jackie Anderson, president of the Houston Federation of Teachers, accused Miles of using the tax dollars as his own “personal piggy bank,” echoing Hernandez’s request for an immediate investigation.

“The corruption of this deal stretches beyond just Mike Miles – the board of managers is also complicit in this shadowy scheme by failing to provide oversight and transparency,” she said. “Greg Abbott’s takeover of our schools has failed. Teachers, students and their families deserve better and in response we are demanding the immediate resignation of Mike Miles and the immediate exit of the TEA from HISD.”


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