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A Further Examination of Mike Miles’ Relationship With Jennifer Sprague

Update (6/14/12): After speaking with the public information officer at Harrison County’s District 2, it makes sense to me why I only got two email exchanges in response to my open-records request. The school district is small and doesn’t have the money or server space to automatically back up more than two weeks of emails. Also, Jennifer Sprague’s last day with the district was on or about May 24 (because she used up vacation time to end her tenure there). Before she left, she cleaned out all her email.

Original item: I don’t understand any of this. DISD’s new superintendent, Mike Miles, hires his old communications chief from Colorado Springs, Jennifer Sprague, to work in Dallas. He gives her a $100,000 raise. Everyone goes, “Wha?” Miles defends the decision by saying that no one would complain if Sprague were older and more experienced and a dude. Plus, he says, he’s never even had coffee with Sprague. That’s insane. You’re the boss and you’ve never had coffee with your top communications person? NBC 5 got copies of Miles’ expense reports and found that Miles and Sprague — have had lunch. Of course they have! And there’s nothing wrong with that. Or with having coffee together. Why would Miles say stuff like this? Watch the NBC report, and then jump for something else interesting I found through an open-records request.


Probably about the same time NBC was asking for Miles’ expense reports, I was asking Miles’ old school district in Colorado Springs for every email sent directly between Miles and Sprague from February 1, 2012, to current day (excepting those emails where other recipients were included). I figured when I got all the emails, I’d need to put an army of interns on the project, ask them to comb through thousands of records to see if they contained anything interesting.

You know how many emails I got? Two. Exactly two email exchanges. One was initiated Saturday, June 9; the other was initiated Monday, June 11. Neither was of any interest.

I am astounded that over the course of four and a half months, a superintendent would have no direct email contact with his chief communications person. So astounded, in fact, that I find it hard to believe.

43 comments on “A Further Examination of Mike Miles’ Relationship With Jennifer Sprague

  1. Miles was speaking of the metaphorical “having coffee”. See, to really try to understand what he was hinting towards, one, would have to know the original Greek and Aramaic text from which Miles was/is referring to. It’s just(and Miles and I were having a laugh about this), more or less, the context and the time at which he spoke these words, that’s all.

  2. “we’ve never even had coffee together”

    I just hung my head and smiled when I read this. An obvious sign he is hiding something. And now it just shows they exchanged just two emails?Hang my head smiling.

  3. So is she the one who goes on TV news and talks on behalf of the district? When she does, viewers will see dollar signs and coffee cups hovering above her head — and not hear a word she says.
    But even more important than imagery, this superintendent has a propensity for saying, well, weird stuff. It would be funny to watch, except that his is the most important job in the community. The kids always seem to be the least important part of school district politics.

  4. Have you talked to his employers for their feedback/opinion? I want to know who to vote against

  5. 2 emails? Here are the follow up questions:
    Really?
    Just the two, really?
    If there are only two emails, and you do not “have coffee together”, when/where have you had enough interactino with Jennifer to prompt your job offer in the first place and the incredibly large salary jump associated?

  6. The issue is you specifically told the school district to exclude emails where other recipients were included. I receive in excess of 200 emails a day. I suspect that almost all of them have someone else copied (a secretary, a coworker, a boss, a subordinate, etc.). I assume amy person is Miles’s position is going to have the same issue.

  7. I still am stunned at the utter stupidity on the part of Miles, thinking that any of this is justified.

    Even IF Ms. Sprague was the most incredible PR person currently working in the US, the notion that you could hire her at a salary that was no where near what competitive positions pay, and was more than twice her previous salary and that would cause just a bit of a PR nightmare displays either an amazing amount of ignorance, or so much chutzpah that HE is the most amazing superintendent working in the US today.

    I’m leaning toward the ignorance answer.

    Whether or not any personal shenanigans are going on between the two, I think this and other recent “cabinet-level” hirings Miles has made are beginning to make Gonzalez’ bedroom furniture look like no big deal.

  8. Edward,

    You nailed the whole PR nightmare aspect of this—-what were they thinking?And the furniture reference; let’s hope that both parties are not picking out furniture together.

  9. Sorry, but I have to wonder if Mr. Miles has been hiking the Continental Divide.

  10. Maybe look at ALL emails and focus on other names. There MUST be communications or Miles is a bigger ass than he looks. If he was smart ( it doesn’t look that way) he would provide all the communications and put this to rest. This is counter productive….put a spin on that” Miss PR specialist.” Time for you to resign and let Miles get to work for the KIDS.

  11. Maybe Miles isn’t a coffee drinker. Did anyone happen to look for a Starbucks receipt?

  12. Has Jennifer’s job already started? Why have we not heard from the communications chief on this fiasco?

  13. What I want to know is whether DISD is also paying relocation expenses for her. Moving, housing, per diems, all add up quickly – especially on top of that $185 grand!

  14. If Miles was not in constant touch with his top communications professional, if she was not attending all of the high level meetings and staff meetings then she was nothing more than an award winning flunky. Top level communications executives are key members of the C Suite team. If she wasn’t in contact with the Superintendent then there is something very wrong with the picture she and Mike are trying to paint. You can’t provide strategic counsel if you are not around when issues are being discussed and decisions are being made.

  15. OK – read Tim’s statement. There were only 2 emails that did not include other people. There is no telling how many emails where shared between the 2 and included all sorts of other folks. Playing devil’s advocate, say this is nothing going on between them. Say he just likes the way she works and thinks – and wanted her on this team in Dallas. Is that too simple to be true? Just asking.

  16. this hire sounds fishy …..sorry PR person
    you haven’t had much job experience

  17. I think the most interesting thing is that the PR person has not addressed this issue directly. If she is indeed, worth the money, then get to work. This is a again, the way things happen in DISD, Cronyism at its highest level. I hope that we as taxpayers get answers. Also, the fiasco with him not being certified, smells fishy. He wanted to get a 3 year waiver? Please, DISD needs the most qualified candidates to run the schools, not a person, who has a 3 year contracts, is trying to seek a waiver from TEA and rob the students of educational opportunities. Many of the contracts on the board agenda tie-up millions of dollars with vendors, who do not have a proven record. From the beginning it is obvious that this superintendent did not have the qualifications necessary to run an urban school district. DISD Trustees, please do what’s right. I am ashamed I voted for some of you on the last ballot…

  18. Just to be clear, what is D Magazine’s policy on dating in the workplace?

  19. Let’s back up before we knew who he hired. Anyone talking about the people he let go without any severance who have been faithful soilders for years? Check out the Reconnection Center. Does he know that 30% of Dallas graduates have touched the Reconnection program before graduating but he let the one person who was left running the program go? How does that work? Who’s going to guide the facilitators? Who’s going to write curriculum? Who’s negotiating contracts, delivering computers, dealing with personnel issues? Who’s going to train? Who’s going to give all these wonderful kids another chance? Who’s going to give those kids hope?

  20. Why is t his information not on Channel 8??? They NEVER go after non-minority DISD officials! The board is the at fault for NOT having more than one finalist. Stupid board only caring about the getting a non-minority Supt. This guy is wiping out the budget before he starts. It’s all about the money. The board shouldn’t allow him to hire just anybody for jobs he cut lose from others.

  21. @Ms. Slippery Slope: We have no such policy. As a result, I am currently dating Zac. Honestly, it’s not working out for either of us. It’s a destructive relationship filled with cross-enabling. But we both think we can get a book deal out of the thing, wherein one of us would write a tell-all and reveal the sordid details. We’ll probably stay together until one of us gets a contract.

  22. You could hire Jennifer Sprauge to run PR Communications…a one book deal usually costs $10,000 so you should offer $20,000 to be safe.

  23. I had the great opportunity to spend some time over several days with Mrs Jennifer Sprague. She and her husband are very humble, genuinely kind and down to earth people. Jennifer is truly passionate about making the desperately needed changes in DISD.
    I am a father of a nine year old girl. My wife and I spend a considerable amount of money to live in the conveniently located area of Preston Hollow. However, we do not feel good about placing our child in the school system at this time for many obvious reasons. It’s disturbing that Dallas home buyers in many areas can spend millions of dollars for a home and their local public schools are ranked unnacceptable.
    I fully support Mr. Miles and and Mrs. Sprague. I feel confident they will take DISD to the level it should be. I hope those who live in a constant state of criticism, judgment and negativity would choose to support their efforts to better DISD and stay focused on making DISD a school district we would feel good about sending our kids to.
    Welcome Mr. Miles and Mrs. Sprague! Good luck, most of us are cheering you on!!

  24. In Dallas ISD there is a large group of Mexican-Texans students so this district must abide by the law of our state in Education. These students should enjoy all the privileges and rights of the Texas Education Agency as that of the Anglos through out the state of Texas. How may this Anglo blue eyes female person be able to relate to these Mexican-Texans youth who have been through a great deal of struggle just to make it to class ??

  25. I would personally like to thank Natalia R. Garcia for her female-person based display of authentic racial gibberish. Throw in some cactus juice and I’d buy this whole meal.

  26. @Natalie, “Anglo blue eyes female” seems like a very borderline offensive item to bring into the conversation. Would that same concept go over very well in the Park Cities if they were hiring a “Mexican-Texan” when their main demographic is “Anglo blue eyes”? “How may this “Mexican-Texan” be able to relate to these “Anglo blue eyes” youth?” Doesn’t do anything but lower the credibility of your argument if there is one.

  27. This is pure hogwash. Some hard core marauders don”t want to give up what they have obtain through the years in Texas. Yeah, right this is still going on the Mexican–Texans being treated as second class citizens. “Continuing to humiliate the people of Mexican origin for the simple fact of being of said origin,” as stated by Alonso S. Perales . Just follow up what Dallas ISD .did to my daughter.at Anson Jones Elem.by principal , Alberto Herrera with an EXPIRED Principal permit. Source Legal Open Records—SBEC Official Record Of Educator Certificate. Jan 30,2012. Fax. 9729253230.

  28. Can you please explain what exactly is a Mexican-Texan? I am guessing it is someone that lives in Texas and has one parent that holds a Mexican citizenship and the other parent holds a US citizenship making the “Mexican-Texan” a dual citizenship individual. Is that correct?

  29. This is a very old term used in the early 1900’s, I read this in a history book —–titled ” Alonso S. Perales His Struggle For The Rights of Mexican-Amereicans ” , by Adela Sloss-vento.. I am aware that the term has changed through the years.

  30. In reference to the statement of new Supt. Mike Miles of the salary of Jennifer Sprague, he mentioned Lady Gaga’s salary or revenues.——Yeah Lady Gaga mikes millions ,but she is very unique. There is only ONE Lady Gaga,but for the work of a DISD –PR. there may be a line of persons for that job from Dallas ISD. to California for that type of job, and salary.

  31. Too bad you couldn’t pull their cell phone records. I will bet the texts are interesting.
    They know better. They know email – district email is subject to open records act.

  32. Wes Mantooth, [ who ever you really are ? ] you are a pessimist and very limited in unedited Tejas History written by very well educated Tejanos.
    Your bias shows that your racism is deep rooted and beyond repair. Don’t forget to buy Preparation H.

  33. What Alberto Herrera ,principal did to my daughter a tenured pre-kinder teacher , on Jan 10,2012 –sent her home— how unprofessional. He just wanted to look good in the eyes of his buddies. He must wannabe a superintendent next. Just remember what you do unto others will soon come back to you. My daughter has worked hard to build a decent life for herself by becoming an effective and caring teacher. Yet this principal sat out to destroy what she worked so hard to achieved. These are the values most families have raised their kids with—–including my daughter. Now he told one of the teachers—-” I feel like a king”.

  34. Is Alberto Herrera, principal of DallasISD. , a real man? He lies, utters unprofessional and false statements about a pre- kinder teacher at Anson Jones ES. The false recommendation to terminate her, he made is the following: “Behavior that presents a danger of physical or mental harm to a student or to other individuals.” His Supervisors just cover their ears or make an about face on this unauthentic groundless comments. Also include his bias evaluations.
    As my daughter’s parents we would love to know if he was a Cub Scout, a Boys scout, Army Reserve, or served in Viet Nam/current wars? If he did, what rank was he able to attain ? If he is a recent immigrant, he might not have belong to any.
    From what my husband and I have seen Alberto Herrera makes unfounded comments. Knowing well that he can hide behind the coattails of Dalllas ISD.

  35. Last night I was reading about Elliot Monteverde Torres ,a Latino teacher from Botello Elem. This teacher got the same treatment as did my daughter, a pre- Kinder bilingual teacher at Anson Jones ,DISD. Since the Republicans were in power under Pres. Bush ( el hijo } the abuse of Texas teachers brewed up , this came about with their stupid evaluations,below expectations, unwarranted growth plan,etc. Of course all these bias shenanigans are only applied to Hispanic Teachers . The local teachers organizations don’t do a thing about it., and of course the do nothing TEA in Austin wants no part in it .And the lawyers will take you to the BANK. The school board members do what our present politicians do better. They only worry about being re- elected to receive all the fringe benefits. The struggle for the Latinos/Hispanics of Texas continues. It is apparent that No or very few if any Anglo teachers are being fired under the same tactics. Statistics could prove this if MALDF/LULAC was to do some research into it.in Texas public schools.

  36. Alberto Herrera believes now that he is a king at Anson Jones for what he did to my daughter ,a pre-kinder bilingual teacher. On Jan. 10, 2012 , this individual told her to leave the school that morning as she arrived .He had made a defamatory statement without any expertise in that area of his statements

    . Yet he had written it to a third party. All this is allowed in Dallas ISD ,because the teachers associations are powerless. Don’t forget Texas is a RED state. It is very clear Alberto Herrera would never do this to a WASP or BLACK teacher. Yeah , he picks on an Hispanic knowing no one in the district will stand up for an Hispanic with a high performance ability to succeed in what ever she wants to do . She has proven that to her parents and who ever says indifferent is only saying it with malice to hurt her further . All these brewed up with Luis Valdez, Rosa Temengil, and Alberto Herrera. { administrators—-2 were re-located —I wonder why? } . Alberto Herrera accomplished the mission.