Tullahoma High School theater arts teacher Aaron Miller has resigned from his post, according to Interim Director of Schools Scott Hargrove.
The News received a press release dated Friday, Nov. 15, from Hargrove around 4:30 p.m. Saturday concerning the matter.
Miller had been suspended pending an investigation by THS administrative officials since the end of October. TCS officials would not confirm to The News the nature of the investigation at that time.
According to the press release sent by Hargrove, an investigation into Miller was launched due to “parent and student concerns.”
Some of those concerns included possible violations of the Federal Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), violations of school policy, inadequate safety concerns on school field trips and “multiple violations of the Tennessee Teacher Code of Ethics.”
According to a report provided to The News, parent and student concerns were brought to the THS administration mid-September, prompting an investigation by Assistant Principal Greg English.
Some of English’s findings include a possible FERPA violation, a violation of the Teacher Code of Ethics, a violation of TCS policy and poor judgment as a chaperone.
According to English’s report, Miller possibly violated FERPA by making social media posts containing audition forms with student names, phone numbers and email addresses. When notified, the report states Miller took the posts down.
Miller was also found to have violated district policy 5.601 which covers conflicts of interest. According to the report, Miller marketed t-shirts made by his wife’s personal business to students, which was a “clear violation” of the policy.
Additionally, Miller was found to have violated the Teacher Code of Ethics by providing student information to other students’ parents.
He also acknowledged his mistake in chaperoning a student field trip to Nashville to see a musical. During this trip, all students were sat together without any adult supervision, which Miller recognized as a mistake.
According to the report, Miller met with English and Hargrove Sept. 23 to discuss the allegations. During the meeting, Miller “made statements which led Mr. Hargrove to have concerns about his ability to separate his role as a teacher from his role as a husband and father.”
Following that investigation, Miller was given a “corrective action plan” to follow. Miller was advised “any failure to satisfy the corrective action plan would result in his termination.”
There was also a second investigation into Miller conducted by Assistant Principal Shari Zimmerman at Hargrove’s request.
Zimmerman took a second look at the items English investigated as well as a fifth allegation, the failure to comply with district policies regarding technology use.
According to Zimmerman’s report, which was provided to The News, Zimmerman also went over all the financial records of the ImprovaTeers, any theater productions, theater fundraising and “general business of the theater program” from August 2018 to October 2019.
In all, Zimmerman said in her report that there was evidence found to support all five allegations.
TCS and Miller have "entered into a Severance Agreement on November 15, 2019," according to the release.
Miller's official resignation date is back-dated to Oct. 28, around the time The News learned of his suspension-pending-investigation.
The press release states Miller will continue to receive compensation through Dec. 31, and TCS will "receive a full release of any and all claims from" him.
Additionally, Hargrove will be required to report the investigation and resignation to the Tennessee Department of Education, which will decide if Miller will be able to keep his teaching license.
"I am required by Tennessee law to file a Director's Report Regarding Licensed Teacher with the Tennessee Department of Education addressing Aaron Miller's resignation and the investigation by THS staff," Hargrove said in the release.
The press release can be read in full here:
Miller later responded to The News via email, saying it was “my honor to serve students as an educator in Tullahoma City Schools.”
“My family and I love this community. Professionally, it is time I move forward in another direction,” Miller said in his statement. “It was a difficult decision, but one that I felt was in the vest interest of students, the school and myself. Teachers, Coaches and Administrators frequently move in our profession for career opportunities. My family and I will forever be grateful for the community support and we wish the students and faculty the very best moving forward. I would like to thank Mr. Hargrove, the administration, and the school board for the opportunity to teach here. I am looking forward to the next phase in my career.”
Erin McCullough may be reached at email@example.com.