Yesterday, I posted a controversial article about how Susan Bunting failed to disclose vital information to the Delaware Auditor’s office. There was at least one (as of this writing) complaint against Indian River’s former Chief Financial Officer, Patrick Miller. Since then, new information has materialized that sheds some additional information on what I am calling Millergate. Once again, as in yesterday, there is language in this article that is not safe for work.
I spoke with the parent from the incident I wrote about. I was concerned last night. I wondered if Dr. Susan Bunting even knew about the incident. Was it possible her Assistant Superintendent, Gary Brittingham, never told her about it? The parent informed me she was invited to attend a board meeting after she received the district response to her complaint. She did attend and spoke with the board and Dr. Bunting during an Executive Session.
I emailed Governor Carney’s Communications Director, Jonathan Starkey, and his Education Policy Advisor, Jon Sheehan, after I posted my article yesterday. I asked them to make sure Governor Carney saw my article and to seriously look into this. I received no response from either of them.
Rob Petree with Delaware 105.9 interviewed me about my article this morning. He did some legwork on his end and contacted the Delaware State Police to verify the State Police Officer filed the complaint. She did and this was the determination of DSP:
“A formal complaint was taken by the Delaware State Police on May 14, 2013, for disorderly conduct,” confirmed Cpl. Melissa Jaffe, Public Information Officer with Delaware State Police. “Through further investigation it was determined that ‘not so nice’ comments were made amongst all parties involved. It was indicted by third party witnesses that there were no threats made and no charges were filed.”
Even if the State Police made a determination on their end with the complaint, the parent still filed a complaint with the district. While it is not my judgment to determine if the police should have filed charges, it was more than obvious that the abusive language from Patrick Miller violated district policies on many levels.
Petree attempted to get a response from Secretary Bunting on this but was met with this:
Delaware 105.9 reached out to Dr. Bunting who has yet to respond to a request for comment.
As for Indian River’s response to my article from yesterday, I was notified that their Superintendent and Personnel Director spoke truthfully when they told the Auditor’s office there were no “formal complaints” against Miller. However, their definition of “formal complaint” differs from what I would see as a “formal complaint“. They claimed their response to the audit investigation, which is included in the original final report from November, 2016, would clear them of this:
On any given day, any one of the more than 1500 IRSD employees may deem other staff members irascible, rude, or aloof. In such instances, the employees including the CFO were counseled by his/her immediate supervisors. When concerns are voiced, employees were informed that the district has a formal complaint process. (See Attachment A) Although some staff members had commented about finding the CFO difficult to deal with, not one employee exercised his or her right to follow the district’s formal complaint process. No district employee filed the form, thus filing a “formal complaint” as recognized by the district. Both the superintendent and the personnel director responded truthfully when questioned about a formal complaint.
This is my HUGE issue with this! The parent complaint I wrote about yesterday was a formal complaint. The parent filed a form that had the words “FORMAL COMPLAINT” and submitted it to the district, along with tons of notes about the incident. The district formally responded to that complaint. Was the district saying they do not recognize parent complaints as valid? Are they honestly saying nothing happens as a result of those? This is word salad designed to appease the masses!
The audit investigation did reveal Miller was named in a discrimination lawsuit but that was not the only name in the lawsuit. Many lawsuits against a school district will name several administrators. However, both Bunting and their personnel director failed to disclose that when initially asked by the auditor’s office. It was only when the auditors asked them about it did they come clean about it. Why fail to disclose that in the first place? The district didn’t belabor that point in their response to the auditor.
Beyond this bizarre wordsmithing by the district, I would like to know when it is ok for ANY school administrator to call a parent a fucking whore. I’m pretty sure if I did that at ANY job I would be walked out the door. And there were witnesses to this. Including the parent’s two children. They were 8 and 11 at the time of this incident. As a result of this, the parent was forced to explain to her child what a “fucking whore” is. Aside from being humiliated by Miller, in public, in a very reprehensible way, this woman had to explain to her own child what Miller was saying. What kind of a man does that? What kind of a Superintendent or Assistant Superintendent sweeps that under the rug and hides it because it is not a “formal complaint” of their liking? Instead of looking out for two students, Bunting looked out for her own administrator. That is not making it about the kids. That is something altogether different.
Miller clearly violated Indian River’s policies and procedures which clearly spelled out how:
Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Actions, words, or comments based on such characteristics will not be tolerated. Harassment on any unlawful basis (both overt and subtle) is strictly prohibited. This policy applies in all work-related settings and activities and is not limited to the workplace.
These are their own words, not mine. It appears the zero tolerance for this does not apply to their own administrators saying this to a parent, at a school function, and on school property. I’m sorry Dr. Bunting, but you don’t get a pass from me on this one. By not punishing Miller for his actions, you allowed his bullying and harassment to continue. By not disclosing this (along with any other parent complaints you did not deem to be “formal”) to the auditor, you allowed that state agency to operate under the illusion that you had no idea what this man was doing. You betrayed your district, the taxpayers of your district, and the students you were entrusted to lead. You could have taken action right then and there but you didn’t.
I went back and looked at the article I wrote in real-time when Susan Bunting went through her confirmation hearing in the Delaware Senate. Not one State Senator asked about the financial situation in Indian River. Not one. They ignored it. Like it didn’t even happen. With 18 yes votes and 1 no, they confirmed her without even bringing the topic up. This was two months after the audit investigation came out.
It is about honesty and transparency. I do not believe Bunting exhibited those qualities on two occasions. One, when the parent filed the complaint and she failed to get rid of Miller at that point. And two, when the Auditors came to their district office and she failed to disclose that complaint and, given that this was not acted upon and swept under the rug, any potential other ones. I can’t begin to guess why she made those choices. I would think, at the time the auditors were investigating, she had some vague idea Carney wanted her as Secretary. I heard rumblings about it from various people at that time. I won’t even get into the absurdity of this man being able to retire and collect a pension while doing what he did. I recognize that is not in the district’s control. That is our legislators fault and they failed to do anything about this on two occasions.
People can say I’m being too hard on Bunting but that is because she wasn’t hard enough on Miller. I have no doubt the guy pulled the wool over their eyes while he did his thing with district finances. But they didn’t operate in a silo when it came to his behavior. As I write this, I am hearing from others who have their tales to tell. This is how it goes. It takes one person to come forward and more will come.
Bunting proudly sat next to Miller when he received a Volunteer of the Year Award from Governor Markell in October of 2013. She honored him. The same man who called a parent a fucking whore in front of her children five months earlier. Just think about that for a minute.
I don’t disparage the good works both Miller and Bunting may have done throughout their careers. But I loathe the things Miller has done. And I have lost all respect for Bunting because she covered up even just one vile thing he did. There is NO excuse for that.
I have no doubt I will be persona non grata with the Delaware DOE after this. Full disclosure- I sent them a proposal for a contract to help finally get procedures in place to make sure our districts and charters are coding expenditures properly. I even told them I would quit blogging because I felt the work was that important. I was told they wouldn’t do anything until Chuck Longfellow comes aboard on August 1st, which I understood. I had reservations about writing the article yesterday based on this. But I wrestled with my conscience and knew I had to write it. I would be betraying what I stand for by not writing about it. Trust is and should be paramount in public education. Students should always come first, no matter what. And when I say students first, that doesn’t mean you bury things in the hopes they never come out for the “good of the district”. It doesn’t mean getting parents to shut up. It doesn’t mean keeping people who abuse their position by calling parents what Miller did in the parking lot in 2013. It means letting the skeletons come out of the closet and going from there. It means owning up to your mistakes. People respect that a lot more than cover-ups. Nothing stays buried forever.
I would rather stand for the truth than be buried in a lie. That is just who I am. Anyone can rely on wording to get out of a lie. It is very easy. Legally, that is. Morally? Ethically? Sorry, I’m not buying it. And I’m not alone. They may not write about it like I do but they are reading this and saying, “Yeah, that’s me.” I write for them, not for those who read this and think “crap, what else does he have?” I have plenty. If you are worried, you ought to be. You may not be on my immediate radar but that can change in a heartbeat. And for those who want to play me, don’t test me. You will lose. And I’m pretty sure you know exactly who you are.
I’ve often been asked how come I’m not dead yet. I’ve wondered that myself. The vast amounts of corruption and fraud I’ve found and exposed. The lies I have uncovered and written about. But I will say this. I may write under my own name but no one knows who else knows what I know. They don’t know who I might share my information with or what pains I take to make sure that if anything does happen to me everything would get out in a New York minute. I have contingency plans that have contingency plans. I am a watchdog and I watch everything. I listen to every single word said. You may not think I am but that would be your greatest mistake.