A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.
Gretchen Miller, a “period dignity officer” for a high school, was appointed by the board of education five months after an anonymous letter was delivered to the principal’s office. The letter stated that the students in Mr. Miller’s classes were “being sexually harassed out of pure malice!”
The students’ sex lives were, in reality, largely irrelevant. Teachers and administrators often use this line to refer to the complaints against them without mentioning the reason for the complaint.
The reason for the complaint was that Mr. Miller, who had spent 30 years with the Los Angeles Unified School District and the National Education Association, used his position to facilitate sexual relationships between students, particularly boys, and their female classmates in the high school’s social-studies classes. It took the principal several months before he could find the students who had complained. The principal said that although the students who made the complaints were “credible,” he decided he could not bring charges with his own investigation.
“The kids’ lives are not relevant,” the principal said. “They were just like all the kids in my classes. Everybody just sort of made up their own story about who did what.”
A school board member who had served on the teachers union’s executive committee said that at the time the claims were made, the school was under investigation by the district’s Office of Civil Rights. He said it was the only time in his four years in office that he had seen so many allegations about staff misconduct. The union was notified, and it was decided that the school would have the school police investigate them.
Mr. Miller was transferred to another school in the district. The principal said he decided that Mr. Miller, who was only the second person at the school under investigation, had not broken any rules, and that the complaints against him were meritless and had not been confirmed.
In late 2008, Mr. Miller was terminated following what the principal called a “personal complaint by the (union).” In May of 2009, he