New HISD superintendent to seek waiver from TEA due to inactive state certification

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Monday, June 5, 2023
New HISD superintendent appointed despite inactive certification
HISD's new Superintendent Mike Miles is planning to seek a waiver from the Texas Education Agency due to his inactive state certification since 2018.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- This is the first full week for Houston ISD's new superintendent, 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 the district's leader, House had something Miles does not: a valid state certification from the Texas Education Agency.

Miles was certified between 2013 and 2018 but has since gone inactive. During a phone call with ABC13 on Monday, Miles said he will not seek to reactivate the certification.

Instead, he said, the district will seek a waiver from the TEA if it has not already.

The TEA told ABC13 the following:

"If a certification waiver is needed for the Houston ISD superintendent, it will be granted as it is for other school systems. In the case of Superintendent Miles, he has already successfully led a Texas ISD and Texas public charter schools. Certification requirements are meant to establish minimum training needs, and he has already surpassed any competencies addressed by the certification."

Miles echoed that assessment of his qualifications in our phone call. He is a former superintendent in Colorado and Dallas.

"Though the piece of paper is not unimportant, more important than that is getting outcomes. It's the ability to lead, to have a vision, and to make the tough decisions others won't make," Miles said.

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Newly-installed Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles wants employees at nearly 30 campuses to re-apply for their jobs.

The lack of certification is making the rounds with HISD and the Texas education community. ABC13 spoke on Monday with the executive director of the Association of Texas Professional Educators, who says their concern is not Miles' qualifications. They have other issues.

"Most notably," Shannon Holmes said, "is that we don't have any locally elected school board members anymore, so I am not sure where local accountability comes into place for voters."

Miles is no doubt qualified. He graduated from West Point in 1978 and has additional degrees from The University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University. Before entering education, he worked in the U.S. Department of State.

Still, the Houston Federation of Teachers president says this is more about the optics than the actual certification.

"It's just kind of hypocritical that you come in and talk about how you want to improve things," Jackie Anderson said. "And you want the best, and you want this, and you don't even take the time to make sure your certification is up to date."

Miles was certified in Colorado and served as a superintendent there before coming to Texas in 2012, where he served as the superintendent of Dallas ISD. He started his job there in July 2012.

The board there expected him to have his certification at that time but then gave him a six-month extension. He did not meet that deadline, though he did get his certification in May 2013. It went inactive in 2018.

A district seeking a waiver for superintendent certification is not common, but it's not unusual. According to data from the TEA - since 2009, the state has granted 40 superintendent waivers. That includes one for Alief ISD last year, Fort Bend ISD in 2016, North Forest ISD in 2013, and Pasadena in 2017.

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