Home » In Focus » Mike Harris: The Truth behind the Legend – Part 1

Mike Harris: The Truth behind the Legend – Part 1

Throughout the last year there has been considerable speculation regarding the administrative hearings and charges currently pending before the NM Public Education Department (PED) against Alamogordo Public Schools (APS) Superintendent Mike Harris. The problem is that most of the information circulating is the result of a rather prolonged campaign to hype this into something it is not. In several parts I will endeavor to place a little reality into the mix.

In this part I will attempt to explain just how sloppy and incompetent the handling of this case by PED Assistant General Counsel Bruce Berlin has been. The question has been where to begin. Why not start with the obvious first.

NCA Licensure File #321-688 (II)(8). In the summer of 2007, Eddie Kilmer, a former coach at Slaton High School at the same time Licensee served as superintendent of the Slaton (TX) Independent School District, applied for a teaching and coaching position with Alamogordo High School. As the superintendent of a small school district, Licensee knew or should have known that Mr. Kilmer had been reprimanded and suspended from coaching by the University Interscholastic League, in which Slaton High School participated, for three years until August 14, 2010, due to allegations of inappropriate contact with a sports official. Licensee failed to disclose said reprimand and suspension to the hiring committee when Mr. Kilmer applied for the Alamogordo position.

This is one of the allegations pending. The allegation states quite clearly that the TX matter concerning Kilmer included a suspension for a term of 3 years ending in August of 2010. This means, of course, that the suspension began in August of 2007, months after Kilmer was hired at APS by Harris. In fact postal records regarding the suspension letter show that Kilmer did not even receive the notice of suspension until August 25, 2007. Hard for anyone to know about that in June when Kilmer was hired.

This is where it gets a little curious. You will note the allegation above makes 2 references to Slaton ISD. The first of the mentions alleges that Harris and Kilmer worked together in Slaton which appears true. The second mention of Slaton seems to allege that because Slaton is a small district that Harris (Licensee) “knew or should have known” about Kilmer’s suspension. Notwithstanding the above dates it is clear that Harris left the Slaton ISD more than 2 years before the suspension of Kilmer. We get some indication of this from not only documents in the case file, but also from articles in the local paper documenting the selection of Harris’ successor in Slaton (Lubbock Online).

Let’s try that from the top once again. Harris left Slaton in 2005. Kilmer was suspended in 2007 while Harris was working at APS. What sort of logic was Berlin employing to determine that because Harris once worked in Slaton that he knew or should have known that Kilmer was at issue for suspension while even at the time of what brought the action he was working on the other side of the state in Royse City?
While not on point it appears that after a PED investigation into the matter Mr. Kilmer remains licensed.

As we go through the allegations and the hype that accompanies it in the faux press as well as the underlying circumstances behind some of the allegations you find two things. The first is an incurious lawyer flopping whatever down on paper with no regard for the consequences of his actions. The second is the outright lies that serve as the basis for this allegation the logic of which was employed once before. This novel incorrect assertion of the timeline first appeared in the pages of the Alamogordo Daily News on September 21, 2007 under the byline of Karl Anderson (Link to NewsModo Archive story):

” Harris was superintendent of Slaton Independent School District at the same time that Kilmer was coaching at Slaton High School.”

Compare that to the NCA:

”Eddie Kilmer, a former coach at Slaton High School at the same time Licensee served as superintendent of the Slaton (TX) Independent School District”

The only reason this is in the NCA is to support the even dopier assertion:

” As the superintendent of a small school district, Licensee knew or should have known that Mr. Kilmer had been reprimanded and suspended from coaching by the University Interscholastic League, in which Slaton High School participated, for three years until August 14, 2010”

Which seems like a fantasy fill-in guess since it just makes no sense.

Someone out there has to understand statistics. What are the chances both were wrong in exactly the same way on the same exact fact that stands in contradiction to the dates stated for Harris’ alleged misconduct while employed on the other side of the state?

NCA (II)(4):
” On September 28, 2006, Licensee signed an agreement to resign his position as superintendent of the Royce City Independent School District in Texas, effective November 30, 2006”

Am I making myself clear? Stay tuned for part 2. It only gets uglier.