This afternoon, the Palm Beach County School Board will vote on whether to fire two H.L. Watkins Middle School teachers who admitted to having sex with former band teacher Heath Miller on school grounds.
As this week's New Times feature story explains, these affairs came to light after Miller was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing several Watkins students last spring.
Now the two female teachers are accused of unprofessional conduct and violating the code of ethics of education professionals. (Neither teacher could be reached for comment this morning. New Times is withholding their names to protect their privacy.)
But at least one of the women, a math teacher, was very popular at Watkins before
the Miller investigation began. In fact, the North Palm Beach County Chamber of Commerce gave her a Teacher of the Year award last year.
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Some former students, interviewed by New Times last month, were full of praise for her. They said she ran a class on teen leadership and helped counsel them about how to deal with school bullies.
"She was, like, always there [for us]," said one 15-year-old who graduated from Watkins last year. "Everybody went to her for their problems."
The other Watkins teacher told a school district detective, Vinny Mintus, that Miller forced himself on her. But after investigating, Mintus found their relationship to be consensual. According to district documents, the teacher stated in interviews "that no physical force was used, no verbal threats were ever made and she never offered any physical or verbal resistance to Mr. Miller during these sexual encounters."
The second teacher's lawyer has told reporters that she will appeal her termination if she's fired.