Anita M. Miller is petitioning the Clay County Civil Court for a judicial review of her March dismissal by Clay Community School Board of Trustees.
According to court documents filed by Miller's attorney Darrel E. Felling on April 3, Miller wants her Clay Community Schools permanent teaching contract reinstated. The documents also state she wants to be reimbursed for her lost bi-weekly pay of $1,058.26 (approximately 14 pay periods), with all benefits and privileges available prior to her contract cancellation.
On Jan. 13, 2008, Miller, a North Clay Middle School physical education teacher at the time, and Melinda Ellis, a White River Valley Junior/Senior High School science teacher, were questioned after Clay County Sheriff's Deputies responded to an accident report.
After an alleged altercation with deputies, both women were arrested.
Ellis was charged with four class A misdemeanor charges, including possession of marijuana, operating a vehicle while intoxicated, possession of paraphernalia and operating a vehicle with an alcohol content exceeding of .08.
Ellis resigned from her job on Jan. 16 and pleaded guilty to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and possession of paraphernalia (the other two charges were dismissed) on May 14, 2008.
However, Miller's criminal case is currently pending in Clay Superior Court. She was formally charged with a class B misdemeanor public intoxication and a class C misdemeanor charge of public nudity. She is scheduled to appear for a jury trial set Dec. 15.
On Jan. 14, 2008, Miller was suspended with pay, following her arrest, through verbal notification from school officials and later she received a letter from Supt. Dan Schroeder that her suspension was effective until further notice.
CCSB held a hearing on Feb. 27, where witnesses, including Miller, testified and evidence was presented.
By a 5-0 vote, Miller was officially released from her contract by the board on March 5, 2008. Dottie King and Steve Grigsby were not present for the vote, which alleged her dismissal was based on "immorality" and/or "other good and just cause" according to court documents.
The petition, filed on Miller's behalf, states she "was prejudiced by the board's decision to terminate her permanent teaching contract … and has sustained irreparable harm by her unlawful termination of employment."
According to the documents, no procedure or policy was in place at the time of Miller's dismissal for teachers arrested and charged with misdemeanor(s) although there is a policy in place for felony charges.
Miller's petition questions the fairness of the termination, what the exact definition is for immoral behavior and other causes deemed inappropriate by the school board as grounds for dismissal according to Indiana Code 20-28-7-1.
The law states that an indefinite contract with a permanent teacher may be canceled only for one (1) or more of the following grounds, immorality, insubordination (which means a willful refusal to obey the state school laws or reasonable rules prescribed for the government of the school corporation), neglect of duty, incompetence, justifiable decrease in the number of teaching positions, a conviction for any felony offenses dealing with drugs or sex (IC: 20-28-5-8) or any other good and just cause.
The statute allows the school board, if it finds just cause, to cancel a contract immediately.
According to the same court documents, Miller admitted that her conduct after her arrest was "far from perfect" and that she was "remorseful in her behavior and apologized to the Board ... for the conditions which resulted in her arrest" but that her bad decision should not result in her termination. Miller was willing to accept any "alternative resolution" which could result in participation in alcohol and drug assessment, anger management evaluation, etc.
Court documents state the school board concluded from the testimony given at the February hearing that Miller's actions "offended the morals of the community and set a very bad example to the students of Clay Community Schools."
Although civil proceedings were initially scheduled for Aug. 18, a new date has not been set.