Mary Miller, the president and former principal of Presentation High School, a private Catholic school near Silicon Valley in California, has resigned after accusations that she never did enough to protect students from predator teachers.
The saga began last October when writer Kathryn Leehane wrote a personal essay for the Washington Post about how the legal system failed her when she reported a “gropey teacher who showed me pornography” in high school. Because she reported the problem a few years after graduating, a detective said there was nothing he could do because “too much time” had passed. She eventually shared her secret with a trusted friend… who said the same teacher had sexually assaulted her.
… When [the friend] told the administration, they scared her into taking back the story.
It galvanized me. No longer attending the school, I wrote a letter to the new administration, detailing my experiences with the teacher. My hope for justice bloomed when the principal replied and asked for my permission to discuss the accusations with him. But after I gave my consent, that hope slowly withered over the next two years, as I heard nothing further and the teacher remained at the school.
While the specifics were left out of that story, the school was Presentation High and the principal was Mary Miller.
People figured that out pretty quickly. Eventually, a website was created for victims to tell their stories… and there were a lot of stories, with victims’ statements and plenty of additional documentation.
One of the stories, from 2004, even says that then-Principal Miller “led an assembly where she lectured students about how disgraceful it was to their image as a community of girls to be discussing the sexual misconduct by former faculty, calling it gossip.”
Other stories involve victims going to Miller with their stories only to see the alleged abusers keep their jobs or never hear back at all.A Change.org petition that was signed by thousands of people condemned the administration and Board of Directors for “allowing predators to have allowed unfettered access to thousands of girls for decades, and allowing them to move on to other schools.”
And then, last month, a former student filed a lawsuit against the school, Miller, and theater director Jefferey Hicks.
The lawsuit claims Hicks molested a 15-year-old sophomore on campus in 2003 and then again in 2004 during a theater trip to New York City while grooming her for a sexual relationship. Parents have accused Presentation administrators of ignoring their complaints about Hicks, who years later while working at a private school in San Mateo, was convicted of keeping child pornography at work and exchanging inappropriate messages with a 14-year-old student.
After all that — after 25 years with the school in various positions — Miller finally resigned last night. She didn’t apologize for anything. Instead, she said she was stepping down because of all the “distraction” created by the sexual abuse allegations.
“I have come to the realization my resignation is what is best for Pres,” Miller said in a resignation letter to the school’s board of directors. “The allegations of past sexual abuse continue to be a distraction for the school and bring negative attention towards Presentation. It is my sincere hope that my absence will bring some peace and allow the staff and new administration to focus on the success and well being of our students — which is our common goal.”
Her resignation would’ve been more helpful two decades and several victims ago.
But with her out of the picture, at least there’s hope her replacement will be someone who takes students’ concerns seriously and acts on them, even at the risk of the school’s reputation. That shouldn’t be a problem, though, considering how awful that reputation is right now. It can only go up from here.
(Screenshot via CBS. Thanks to Jim for the link)