Miles picks a team

He keeps moving, I’m trying to keep up.

Newly appointed Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles‘ first cabinet selections include a mix of HISD staff members, former employees of his charter school network, administrators from across Texas and educational analysts.

Miles’ appointments, announced Monday, are among a bevy of changes to hit the 187,000-student district at the beginning stages of the state’s takeover. District officials have informed central office staff members that they need to work on Fridays during the summer, instead of the planned 10-hour days Monday through Thursday. And officials also released a timetable for staff reapplication process for 29 schools in the Wheatley, Kashmere and North Forest high school feeder patterns.

Houston Education Association President Michelle Williams said Monday that teachers are ready to work with Miles – but he must not “bully” educators as she said he did when he was superintendent of Dallas ISD.

“Requiring teachers to go through a reapplication and interview process to keep their jobs is the wrong focus,” Williams said. “The problems in HISD are systemic and rooted in the historic failure of the governor and the Legislature to provide enough funding, not only for classroom resources but also for the health care and other support services that most HISD students need to have a chance at success.”


The new superintendent selected as his chief of staff, Kerri Briggs, the former D.C. State Superintendent of Education who most recently worked as a partner at the consulting firm Cicero Group. As a school district leader in Washington, she played a role in passing reforms that Miles has planned for Houston including “rigorous teacher evaluation and linkage of pay to student performance,” according to the Washington Post.

Briggs was also the founding director of education reform at the George W. Bush Institute and served as the 43rd president’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education after working at the U.S. Department of Education for eight years.

Miles also named his three division superintendents, who will be responsible for overseeing subsets of the district, including Orlando Riddick, former superintendent of Cedar Hill ISD and Midland ISD, where the district partnered with the charter school network IDEA Public Schools under his leadership to open 14 schools in Midland and Odessa, according to the Midland Reporter-Telegram.

The other two division superintendents are Luz Martinez, former chief of equity, diversity and inclusion at Round Rock ISD, and Imelda De La Guardia, who most recently served as an assistant principal in Spring Branch and formerly worked as a school improvement officer and area superintendent at HISD.

Though several high-ranking HISD officials have left the district since plans for the takeover were formally announced in March, three have stayed and will resume their role under Miles’ administration.

Wanda Paul will continue in her role as chief operating officer, which she has held since 2021. As COO, Paul is responsible for a team of over 6,000 employees who provide transportation, nutrition and building services.

Scott Gilhousen, who has worked as HISD’s chief information officer since 2019, will continue to oversee the district’s technological needs. Catosha Woods will remain general counsel for the district, where she has worked since 2013, according to her LinkedIn.

I don’t know any of these names – the Houston Press provides some bios in their story – so my input here is limited. On the one hand, it’s nice to see a few HISD holdovers, given how much turnover there’s been among senior staffers. On the other hand, anyone with “founding director of education reform at the George W. Bush Institute” on their resume is going to get some major side-eye from me. I’ll just leave it at that.

Meanwhile, the Press also spoke to a couple of BoM members.

One crucial difference of Houston ISD’s Board of Managers from the school board members who preceded them is that each of the nine new members will be responsible for the district as a whole, rather than one particular part of it.

Newly named board member Cassandra Auzenne Bandy made that point in a joint interview with fellow board member Janette Garza Lindner Monday, in a discussion with the Houston Press. It was one of a series of tag team interviews with the media the pair gamely tackled Monday afternoon at the Hattie Mae White Administration building. They are two of the Board of Managers appointed by Texas Education Commissioner Mike Morath as part of the TEA takeover of Houston ISD. Morath also appointed Mike Miles superintendent.

“We have a gift that we aren’t tied to districts. We as a board can focus on all areas of the HISD community. We can engage with our community across districts,” Bandy said.


Equity of service was also a crucial point that Garza Lindner made. Garza Lindner, a management consultant in the energy industry, who lives in the Heights area and declined to name the schools her children attend, ran against school board member Elizabeth Santos in the last board election, losing narrowly.

“The data shows the children are falling behind especially the Black and Latino children in Houston,” Garza Lindner said. ” Because of that, she said, she applauds the real sense of immediacy Superintendent Mike Miles has initiated to get to the source of the problems and make corrections.

“I do appreciate his urgency. It’s been far too long that we’ve been failing a a lot of our kids. While a lot of other kids have been in great schools we know that there are kids that are underserved across the district. This is urgent work for anybody who knows that kids deserve better,” Garza Lindner said.

While neither of these women appeared to be focused on just one issue, Garza Lindner has a special interest in the arts. “Integrated arts education is dear to my heart because I know that’s something that’s kind of fallen short with a lot of the energy on STEM. I’m kind of like ‘Where’s the A?’ We gotta make that STEAM.

“I see the experience and my work with Arts Connect Houston, I’ve seen the data that shows how student outcomes improve with education that has arts integrated into the curriculum.”

Board of Managers members will begin community meetings across the district to hear what residents have to say about HISD and Garza Lindner and Bandy are more than aware that some in the audience may respond in a heated manner, not happy about the TEA takeover.

“What the community is feeling is not wrong. It’s not wrong at all,” Bandy said. “Jeanette and I are stakeholders. We’re in the community. A lot of this uncertainty is what drove us to be here today. The community is not wrong. It’s going to be our job to engage with them, let them know this is a passion for us. We’re parents. We live here. We care about students. We care about our neighbors.”

As Garza Lindner put it: “I’m really excited to work through that anger to actually get to the nuggets of what is it we really want to see as we move this district forward. Whatever energy people bring to it, I’m really excited to hear that.”

I plan to do an interview or two with BoM members (I need a better term for them) in the near future. If there’s a question you want me to ask, leave it in the comments. As far as the, um, energy they’re likely to get from the community, they’ll experience it soon.

Houston organizations are planning to protest next week at the Houston Independent School Districts’ first meeting with the new Texas Education Agency-appointed superintendent, Mike Miles, and the nine-member board of managers that are replacing the elected HISD board of trustees.

The protest, which will take place on Thursday, June 8, at 4:15 p.m. at the Hattie Mae White Education Support Center, comes after the state agency announced the new leadership changes on June 1. Miles detailed some of his plans with local media and in a Friday morning press conference. TEA announced the initial takeover of the district in March.

In response, local education and legal groups said the state’s process interferes with the local electoral process. Opponents of the takeover have also said the state oversight doesn’t address district needs, including additional funding and resources for students in economically disadvantaged communities.

Organizations in attendance include the Community Voices for Public Education, ACLU of Texas, the Houston Federation of Teachers, Black Voters Matter, NAACP Houston branch, the Texas Gulf Coast Area Labor Federation, FIEL Houston, and the League of United Latino American Citizens. Protest organizers said the rally would include a short press conference before the 5:30 p.m. board meeting, where HISD parents, staff, and students will speak.

Here’s a press release from the groups in question. That’s happening today, I’ll look for a report of how it went afterwards.

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19 Responses to Miles picks a team

  1. From the protest groups, “…the state’s process interferes with the local electoral process. Opponents of the takeover have also said the state oversight doesn’t address district needs, including additional funding and resources for students in economically disadvantaged communities.” Their points are valid, but are the newly appointed HISD administrators responsible? Nope. Rather than cause more ruckus here, the protest groups should hold their rallies up in Austin (go straight to those responsible). Every time Abbott calls a Special Session, they should be up there protesting outside the Capital Buildings and/or in front of the TEA Office.

    IMO, now that the state takeover has occurred, holding more local protests smacks of grandstanding. It only serves to cause more local dissension and undermines the new HISD officials who are tasked with improving HISD performance. For now, can we give the new folks a chance to succeed without the protests/bullhorns in the background?

  2. Andrew Lynch says:

    The protests need to stop. It is time to focus on transparency and documentation. Houston ISD will start school in a few months. Lets hope the new leadership team succeeds

  3. Ross says:

    I want a lot of undermining of the clowns that have been installed by fiat at HISD. I want all of them to run away screaming so we can get back the leadership we elected. I am pretty certain that Miles and his morons are going to destroy HISD. It is obvious that the only criteria they will use is STAAR test scores, which are entirely irrelevant in determining whether a student has learned anything.

  4. C.L. says:

    “I am pretty certain that Miles and his morons are going to destroy HISD.”

    …these certainties are based on what exactly ?

  5. Ross says:

    @C.L. that’s my opinion based on what we’ve seen so far. Miles has flat our said that he will rate teachers by test results. If the test results aren’t what he thinks they should be, then I think we will see most of HISD converted to charter schools designed to enrich Abbott’s buddies.

  6. John Hansen says:

    Ross: I am in general agreement with your point that an excessive focus on STAAR results is likely to produce graduates who are proficient at STAAR tests and little else. A metric that has concerned me for a long time is that HISD’s improvement in STAAR scores has not been matched by improvement in its college readiness scores, particularly for Black and Hispanic students.

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  8. C.L. says:

    So what I’m gathering is…

    *Previous leadership at HISD produced graduates who are proficient at STAAR tests and nothing else.

    *Previous leadership at HISD has resulted in STAAR scores that have not been matched by improvement in college readiness scores.

    *New HISD board members, who’ve yet to decide anything, are morons and are going to destroy HISD.

    *Local groups are going to organize and protest something that’s already taken place and ain’t gonna change. Since they worked so well before, presumably they’ll have their bullhorns with them again.

    Got it.

  9. Manny says:

    You need to quit thinking C.L.

  10. I think we can predict where this is headed. Protestors will continue to disrupt HISD Board meetings until the Board is eventually forced to call in law enforcement (enforce Texas Penal Code 42.05 – see below). Protestors will then be outraged that they aren’t allow to attend public HISD Board meetings. Yep, protestors will illegally disrupt these meetings, get themselves thrown out, and then rage about being throw out. I know that sounds ridiculous, but that’s probably how this will play out.

    Sec. 42.05. DISRUPTING MEETING OR PROCESSION. (a) A person commits an offense if, with intent to prevent or disrupt a lawful meeting, procession, or gathering, he obstructs or interferes with the meeting, procession, or gathering by physical action or verbal utterance.

    (b) An offense under this section is a Class B misdemeanor

  11. Manny says:

    Damn, Greg, it sounds like the Civil Rights movement, those dang minorities wanting equality.

    Here they are asking for the right to choose who leads the school district.

  12. Manny says:

    Dang, Greg, I remember reading about some very upset people throwing out some tea because of taxation without representation.

    If one lives in the HISD school district, one will find that the most significant tax is paid to the school district. People who reside in HISD are being taxed without the right to choose their representatives.

    We have dictators in Austin running the state.

  13. C.L. says:

    The residents living in HISD did choose their district representatives…who ended up running the organization into the ground and oversaw, for the most part, diminishing returns after years of/by “….coordinating an unposted meeting of a quorum of HISD Board of Trustees to conduct important district business, failed to follow contract procurement rules and procedures, failed to ensure staff followed these rules and procedures when awarding contracts for goods and services, and acted individually on behalf of the board, exceeding the scope of their authority.”

    …All of which resulted in TEA, legally, requesting the State take over HISD…which the State, legally, did. Folks may not like what happened, but it was all done within the State’s right. All right here:

  14. The folks that enabled the TEA takeover (e.g. state lawmakers, Governor) are also elected representatives, not kings or dictators. This isn’t a Boston Tea Party scenario. The reality is, local governments only have the powers granted to them by the State. To retain our local powers, Democrats are going to have to start winning more Texas House, Senate, and state-wide elections.

    Anyway, we agree that the TEA takeover was not justified at this time (HISD was on the right path; Superintendent Millard House was doing a good job). That said, for the sake of the kids, I am willing to give Superintendent Miles a chance to be successful. Screaming/disrupting HISD Board meetings is, in my opinion, counterproductive. While popular with activists, this kind of bad behavior will eventually cost us the hearts and minds of the general public.

  15. C.L., you are absolutely right that the locally elected HISD Board back in 2018 was a disaster. If the TEA had taken over HISD back then, I would have cheered. By 2023, however, most of those horrible HISD Board members had moved on and we had a good Superintendent (Millard House) running things.

  16. Manny says:

    Greg, England still has a King, they also had a parliament.

    Parliament and the war in the American colonies 1767-83

    Following the repeal of the Stamp Act, Parliament tried to tax the colonies in 1767 by raising import duties, which became known as the Townshend duties, on certain goods. The colonists continued to insist that they could not be taxed by the British Parliament without proper representation, even indirectly by customs duties.

    There is very little difference between what caused the American Revolution and what is occurring at HISD. Parliament was elected.

    C.L., you are full of it, there was turmoil at HISD, but no one drove or was driving it into the ground.
    If stayed on facts the turmoil had nothing to do with the taking over of the district.

    Like all Republicans why stay with facts, when one can just make up stuff.

  17. C.L. says:

    Manny, I don’t know if you need to be on Adderall or Ritalin or both.

  18. Manny says:

    C.L. neither; I refused to allow Trump lovers or people who post lies the same way without responding to them.

    What you stated and somehow believe the link you posted proved your point, was not true.

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