DoD Launches New Probes into DODEA Power Abuses

Shirley Miles

CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa -- The Department of Defense said it will launch fresh investigations into abuses of power by fired schools director Shirley Miles, including federal audit findings that she inappropriately hired the current Japan district superintendent.

The Inspector General’s Office recently found Miles had a personal relationship with Superintendent Clayton Fujie before he applied for his job at the Department of Defense Education Activity and that she gave him preferential treatment -– possibly edging out a highly qualified Air Force veteran -- when he was hired in 2009.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced earlier this month that Miles was fired for the improper hiring as well as misuse of government expenses and vulgar language in the workplace.

“The Department will initiate further investigations on various matters raised in the DoD IG report to take appropriate action, as warranted, upon conclusion of that investigation,” Pentagon spokeswoman Maj. Monica Matoush wrote in a response Saturday following questions over Fujie’s employment from Stars and Stripes.

DODEA is also doing an agencywide review of its employee recruitment and retention program to ensure that no more inappropriate hiring occurs, according to Matoush.

“The initiative will identify ways to improve and refine our processes,” Matoush wrote. “We will reinforce that all employment decisions and programs must adhere to merit principles and reconfirm that prohibited personnel practices have no place in the hiring process for DODEA.”

The DoD denied a request for an interview with Fujie and he could not be immediately reached through his office on Monday.

During the investigation of Miles, Fujie told federal auditors that he had a personal relationship with Miles and she had visited him in Hawaii on two occasions before he applied for the superintendent position, according to a heavily redacted version of the audit released by the Inspector General.

Auditors found that Miles communicated often with a representative of Fujie, even urging him to file an application when the deadline for the superintendent job opening was looming, and also pressed officials within DODEA to process Fujie’s application ahead of others despite concerns that it would break DoD hiring rules, according to the audit.

An Air Force veteran applied for the same position and was considered a higher-rated candidate because of prior experience as a defense schools teacher and a public school district superintendent, the audit said. DoD rules that require a hiring preference for veterans boosted the former Airman to the second-highest job candidate while Fujie ranked within the top 15 candidates.

When Miles decided to hire her friend over the veteran, she worked with the human resources department to work up a justification to bypass the more qualified candidate, according to emails published by the IG.

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