Houston/ Politics & Govt
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Published on May 15, 2024
Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles Denies Misuse of Funds Amid Charter School ControversySource: Google Street View

Embattled Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles is in hot water over accusations of misappropriating Texas education funds to prop up a struggling charter school network he founded in Colorado. A report by Spectrum News Reporter Brett Shipp claims that Miles has been funneling dollars earmarked for Texas education to Third Future Schools, a charter network with locations in both Colorado and Texas. Miles, the former leader of this network, has shot back, fiercely denying the allegations in a recent communication to his "friends, partners and board members."

In an email obtained by the Houston Chronicle, Miles describes the Spectrum News article as egregiously misinforming or, at worst, a deliberate distortion of the financial practices at Third Future Schools. "While I have not worked at the Third Future Schools network for more than a year, I find the piece irresponsibly inaccurate, and I cannot let this kind of misinformation go uncorrected," Miles insisted. Shipp's narrative drew from internal records and a national school rating agency's findings, pointing out performance, enrollment, and financial issues for the Colorado schools, including the closure of one school with a $5 million unpaid bond debt.

The explosive report has led to community outrage and calls by various city officials for Miles’ resignation and a federal inquiry into the financial dealings of the charter network. Contributing to the flame, records confirmed by the Houston Chronicle reveal that Third Future Schools in Texas did shift funds to their Colorado counterparts. However, an expert in charter school finance consulted by the Houston Chronicle suggests that such financial moves are not uncommon and generally fall within the bounds of state law.

Nevertheless, while defending, Miles noted that the administrative fees paid by Texas schools to the central office in Colorado—which oversees human resources and finance—represent a standard practice in the administration of charter networks, obtained by FOX 26 Houston in a released statement. Spectrum News and reporter Brett Shipp have not responded to requests for comment on their initial report as the controversy continues to unfold.

The Texas Education Agency, made aware of the Spectrum report, announced Tuesday that it is conducting a review of the allegations. Amid the unfolding drama, the HISD community anticipates potential fallout as Superintendent Miles pledges to remain focused on the district's challenges, promising to direct his time and attention to finishing the school year strong.