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HISD Threatens Legal Action Against Houston Chronicle For Leaked Principal Warning List

Last Friday, the Houston Chronicle found that Houston ISD Superintendent Mike Miles had warned nearly half of his principals about poor performance in an email. The newspaper published a list with the names of the principals, and now Miles is threatening legal action against it, calling its list “unverified” and “illegally obtained.”

Miles put 117 HISD principals on notice Thursday evening, telling them they would have to perform at a higher level on spring evaluations to remain principals next year. A source sent the Chronicle a list of principals who received the email, which was published.

The list included principals at some of the district’s highest-performing campuses, causing parents and teachers to worry about losing valuable leaders.

According to Houston Public Media, Miles said in a statement that he was outraged by the publication of the list and that he would order “an independent investigation into the source of this information.”

“It is irresponsible and unethical, and the HISD community and the Chronicle’s readers deserve better,” Miles wrote.

He then sent an email to the principals about the leak, suggesting legal action against the Chronicle.

“We are investigating the release of the names, and we have asked the Chronicle to take the names down or face legal action from us,” Miles wrote to principals.

The Houston Chronicle took down the list, saying it had received a tip that some names may have been mistakenly included in the distribution.

The newspaper did not provide a response or comment on Miles’ criticism, and HISD did not respond to Houston Public Media’s question about what specific law the administration believes the Chronicle may have violated. 

“While we are pleased the Chronicle has removed the list from its story, it does not change the fact that its publication has already adversely impacted good people,” Miles said. “The Chronicle violated these employees’ rights by publishing this information and inaccurately characterizing them as low performers.”

Still, it is unclear whether the Chronicle violated any law, as journalists enjoy broader protections under the First Amendment.
Houston ISD has been embroiled in controversy in recent months. Mile’s new education system has raised concerns among parents and teachers for its focus on discipline and the closing of libraries; nearly twice as many teachers have resigned from the HISD since the state takeover; and the district has lost thousands of students.

Written by RA News staff.


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