Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Inappropriate Officials

Too often officials will retaliate against those that turn them in for bad and illegal behavior. Too often officials go unpunished for years of citizen abuse. Connecticut has little oversight and accountability of those that can do so much damage to families and children. Connecticut is making up for an ever shrinking industrial base by parasiting off its weakest and most vulnerable citizens.

CONNECTICUT NEWS

Accountability Issues Probed

Principal's Case Disturbs Two State Officials
March 6, 2007
By JIM FARRELL, Courant Staff Writer
EAST HARTFORD -- The state child advocate and attorney general announced Monday they are investigating oversight and accountability issues after the resignation last week of an East Hartford principal accused of making inappropriate comments to a 15-year-old girl.

Kevin Miller, who began work as principal of East Hartford High School in January, had been the subject of four investigations by the state Department of Children and Families during the previous four years while working as a principal in New Haven.

East Hartford school officials say they did not know about those cases when they hired Miller.

"These allegations raise significant concerns and questions about how DCF and local education agencies respond to allegations of abuse and neglect by administration and staff," Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and Child Advocate Jeanne Milstein said in a joint statement. "We are deeply disturbed about possible abuse of power - and subsequent failure to address the allegations."

Blumenthal and Millstein's offices have since late 2005 been investigating whether the staff at a Southington middle school properly responded to sexual harassment complaints against a teacher who also was the girls' basketball coach.

Blumenthal and Millstein say the case involving the East Hartford and New Haven districts has prompted them to expand their ongoing investigation into the responses by DCF and school administrators.

New Haven school officials say none of the complaints that led to investigations in their district were substantiated by the DCF, meaning there was no determination that abuse or neglect occurred. New Haven officials gave no details about the cases.

Sources with knowledge of the cases, however, said the complaints involved intimidation of students by Miller while he was serving as principal of Clinton Avenue Elementary School and then Fair Haven Middle School.

For example, Miller was accused of hitting a 7-year-old boy with a belt, according to sources. In another case, sources say, second- and third-graders complained that Miller pushed and shoved them in his office.

He also allegedly told students in a third-grade class to make sure they didn't grow up to be whores and prostitutes, the sources said.

At the middle school, a girl reported that Miller touched her face and told her she was pretty, the sources said, and a boy reported being jacked up against a fence by Miller.

Miller allegedly told investigators that the complaints were all retaliatory against him by disgruntled parents, angry teachers or children unhappy with his policies or practices, the sources said.

The complaint in East Hartford was made last month by a 15-year-old girl who said Miller made inappropriate comments to her while he was counseling her about her truancy problems.

The student said Miller held her hand, commented on her appearance and offered to buy her dinner if she improved her grades, according to a police report.

East Hartford put Miller on paid leave during an investigation that revealed he broke school board policy by driving the girl to and from her home for a meeting at the high school. East Hartford police also investigated but found insufficient evidence to file charges.

Miller, 44, who was earning $118,775 annually, denied any improprieties but resigned Friday without comment.

Marion Martinez, East Hartford's superintendent, said she welcomed the expanded investigation. "I am in favor of anything that protects the children we are trying to educate," she said.

School officials in New Haven could not be reached for comment.

Staff Writer Colin Poitras contributed to this story.



Contact Jim Farrell at jfarrell@courant.com.

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