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Fired Federal Employee Lands Consulting Work at Paterson School DIstrict

PATERSON, NJ – An education specialist fired last September by the U.S. defense department over allegations of misconduct has been working at Paterson Public Schools under a consulting contract that pays a Colorado company $7,244 per day.

Shirley Miles had been executive director of the Department of Defense Education Activity when an Inspector General investigation last year found that she steered jobs to friends and family, took liberties with travel reimbursements and failed to properly report vacation days, according to a story by Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper.

After being fired in September by the federal government on the nepotism-related allegations, it seems Shirley Miles’ family connections quickly landed her work in Paterson.

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By October, she joined the team of consultants assigned to Paterson under the school district’s contract with Colorado-based Curriculum Focal Point, according to district employees. Her brother, Mike Miles, is described as one of Focal Point’s “professional developers” on the company’s website and many district employees generally consider him the consulting company’s main representative in Paterson.

When asked about Shirley Miles’ problems at the defense department, Terry Corallo, the spokeswoman for the city school district replied, “This has nothing to do with Paterson Public Schools.’’ Corallo would not say whether the school district monitors the backgrounds of the employees whom consultants assign to Paterson.

More than five different Paterson Public Schools employees have confirmed they attended sessions run by Focal Point during the past six months in which Shirley Miles participated. The degree of her participation varied, the employees said, from a workshop in which she was the primary speaker to others in which she played a secondary role, such as handing out materials.

“She definitely knew her stuff,’’ said one district employee who asked not to be named in this story for fear of retribution by the school district.  The employee said more than 200 teachers and staff attended the session in early October at William Paterson College. “We were all impressed.’’

Paterson Public Schools’ contract with Focal Point, which took effect April 21, 2011 and runs through April 20, 2012, says the company will be paid a maximum of $385,600 per year for “curriculum writing and related” work. The contract does not say how many of the consultants’ employees would work in Paterson, nor does it name them.

The only requirement the Paterson Public Schools’ contract places on Focal Point’s employees is that they be covered by the consultants’ insurance. The contract sets no standards or requirements regarding the backgrounds of the consultants’ employees. In contrast, district employees must undergo a background check for employment.

PatersonPress.com attempted to contact Mike Miles through the email provided on Focal Point's website but received no response. In addition to his consulting work, Miles also serves as superintendent of schools of the Harrison district in Colorado Springs, according to Focal Point’s website.

The contract says Focal Point would be paid $3,000 per day during the 2010-11 school year, $7,244 during 2011-12 and $7,292 for 2012-13. The contract sets the duration of a work day as 8:30 am-3 pm.

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