Over at Channel 8, Brett Shipp brings us news that DISD assistant superintendent Shirley Ison-Newsome has stepped in it again. Despite a new district cost-saving ban on using external facilities for professional development or other meetings, Ison-Newsome approved a $1,500 bowling outing to Arlington for the staff of Wilmer Hutchins Elementary School. The dollar amount isn’t the big deal; the pattern of behavior is.
You’ll remember the credit card scandal back in 2006. Just about everyone in the district, it seemed, had one, and just about everyone was running up questionable charges. Ison-Newsome used her card to buy expensive pillows from the gift shop at Mount Vernon, in Virginia. Then she raised a stink when she ordered a $6,000 private bathroom built onto her office suite (just feet from a nearby bathroom that was in perfect working order). She was demoted at one point and sued the district. More recently, just this year, she approved a $57,000 field trip for 5,000 boys to watch the movie Red Tails, which violated federal guidelines for how Title 1 funds are to be spent. The deal is still under state investigation.
I wrote a story for our August issue about the new superintendent, Mike Miles. I heard the same refrain from multiple people: it was shocking and disheartening that Miles appointed Ison-Newsome as an assistant superintendent. Shipp reports that when DISD investigators looked into the bowling outing, Ison-Newsome told them she was the chief of schools and that “there are bigger problems to worry about than this.”
That attitude isn’t a healthy one. It’s what Mike Miles promised us he would change.