Devastating Complaint Against School Board

     MIAMI (CN) – A middle school band teacher who “repeatedly raped” a fellow teacher in her classroom during school hours “routinely kept female band students after class for 10-20 minute intervals for private sessions of sexual molestation,” a former student claims in court.
     Jane Doe sued the School Board of Palm Beach County, band teacher Heath Miller, and the school’s former principal, in Federal Court.
     Miller, 38, is serving 13 years in state prison for his March 2012 conviction on sex charges involving four students, according to the Florida Sun-Sentinel.
     Doe, now 18, claims that Miller molested her when she was an eighth-grader at Howell L. Watkins Middle School, when co-defendant Ann Wark was its principal.
     Doe claims that though Miller had a “disturbing history,” the “School Board simply allowed the mentally and spiritually depraved Miller to continue interacting with children.”
     The complaint states: “Plaintiff, Jane Doe, was an 8th grade student at Watkins and was enrolled in defendant, Miller’s band class and was also a drum major in the school band, which was directed by defendant Miller.
     “Miller used his trust, respect, and authority as Watkins’ band director in attempting to manipulate Jane Doe, his pupil, into a sexual relationship with him.
     “On or about April 10, 2009, defendant Miller asked the plaintiff to stay after class to assist him in cleaning up the band room and organizing the instruments and other band equipment.
     “During this encounter, Miller made sexual advances toward the plaintiff that included hugging her, touching her buttocks both above and underneath the plaintiff’s clothing and also engaged the plaintiff in an open mouthed, tongue kiss that lasted approximately ten seconds. He also took the plaintiff’s hand and placed it on his thigh in the immediate vicinity of his penis in hopes that the plaintiff would touch his penis in a sexually charged manner.
     “The plaintiff was fearful and disgusted by Miller’s behavior and by this encounter and when it ended Miller gave the plaintiff a pass allowing her to arrive late for her next class.
     “This pattern of events occurred approximately five times in the month leading up to April 10, 2009.
     “At all times material hereto, Jane Doe was a 14-year-old 8th grader at Watkins.”
     Doe claims that the School Board and school principal disregarded alarming signs about the band teacher.
     “Prior to sexually abusing Jane Doe, Watkins was mismanaged by a plethora of incompetent School Board agents and officials, namely, Miller and Wark,” the complaint states. “Wark and the School Board either knew, or should have known, that Miller was abusing students during school hours.
     “The School Board, through Wark and other agents and employees, had actual knowledge of Miller’s reckless, irresponsible, unwholesome, unhealthy, dangerous, baneful, and deviant sexual behaviors.
     “Prior to Miller’s sexual abuse of Jane Doe, Miller sexually battered a Watkins Spanish teacher during school hours, in her classroom, on ‘a handful of occasions.’
     “Prior to Miller’s sexual abuse of Jane Doe, Watkins teacher Amber Schmeider twice had consensual on-campus sex with Miller during school hours.
     “Watkins teachers openly gossiped about Miller having ‘threesomes’ with other teachers.
     “Miller even used a convicted child molester named Franklin King to help him supervise the Watkins band students.
     “Although Wark had been advised that Franklin King had a disturbing history of inappropriate sexual conduct with minors, and that King was helping Miller supervise Watkins band students, Wark never investigated what was happening in Miller’s classroom.
     “After Franklin King’s 2007 arrest for child molestation, Miller defended Franklin King at King’s bond hearing. Miller called King a good friend, a family man, and a man of high morals.
     “Despite Miller’s use and public defense of a child molester, neither Wark nor the School Board made any effort at all to examine Miller’s judgment or supervisory methods.
     “Prior to sexually abusing Jane Doe, Miller, regularly molested and had sexual intercourse with other middle school female students in his classroom during school hours.
     “Worse yet, Miller shot and killed a man only two months prior to having the above-described sexual encounters with Jane Doe.
     “Miller admitted having severe psychological problems as a result of killing another human being. In the School Board’s investigation into Miller’s molestation of his students, Miller stated: ‘I haven’t quite got my mind right since February 16th (the night he killed another man). … A man took six shots at me, and I killed him. And ever since then, I almost feel like I shouldn’t have made it out of there. And I have been acting like that.’
     “After such a tragic, life-altering occurrence, neither Wark nor the School Board insisted on a leave of absence for Miller. Mental health counseling was not provided or even suggested for Miller. Wark and the School Board simply allowed the mentally and spiritually depraved Miller to continue interacting with children as if nothing happened.
     “Miller had also been formally reprimanded for insubordination. He had been arrested. He was missing faculty meetings; disappearing from campus without explanation; and, keeping students on campus after hours without reason.
     “Although Wark expressed concerns about Miller’s inability to follow the School Board’s policies, procedures and ethics, she did nothing.
     “As a result, Miller engaged in the above described sexual abuse of Jane Doe, which caused severe, life-altering psychological and emotional injuries to Jane Doe.” (Parentheses and ellipsis in complaint.)
     Doe adds: “For years, Miller routinely kept his female band students after class to privately molest them.
     “During the 2007-2008 school year and during the 2008-2009 school year, an unaccompanied Miller routinely kept female band students after class for 10-20 minute intervals for private sessions of sexual molestation.
     “The School Board had absolutely no procedures in place to protect children from being improperly kept after class.”
     Then in four devastating paragraphs, the complaint states: “The School Board knew that Miller was an aggressive sexual deviant who had no business keeping female students after class to meet with them privately in a closed classroom.
     “Miller repeatedly raped a fellow teacher in her classroom during school hours. Miller was having consensual sex with another teacher in his classroom during school hours. Watkin’s Principal Wark knew that Miller utilized a known pedophile as a band volunteer. Miller regularly molested other middle school female students in his classroom during school hours. Miller engaged in sexual intercourse with students in his classroom during school hours. Miller open-mouth, tongue kissed female students on campus during school hours. Miller openly fondled female students on campus during school hours. He shot and killed a man two months before abusing Jane Doe. Teachers openly gossiped about Miller’s ‘threesomes’ with other teachers. Miller had been reprimanded for insubordination. He had been arrested. He was missing faculty meetings. He was disappearing from campus without explanation. Given these facts, the School Board knew, or should have known, that Miller was unfit to meet privately with an unaccompanied teenage girl in a closed classroom.
     “The School Board knew or should have known that Miller posed a risk to school children.
     “Despite Miller’s disturbing history, the School Board did nothing to protect Jane Doe.”
     Doe seeks punitive damages for civil rights violations, indifference, failure to train and supervise, negligent supervision, negligent retention and bad faith.
     She is represented by Peter Porcaro, with Topkin, Partlow & Rader, of Deerfield Beach.
     The School Board paid two of Miller’s victims $150,000 each in a settlement last fall, the Sun-Sentinel reported, citing a school district spokesman. Those victims were different from the Jane Doe in this complaint.
     “The Miller scandal also led to the firing of two teachers who had sex with the popular band director at school; one of the teachers claimed it wasn’t consensual,” the Sun-Sentinel reported on Tuesday.

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