School shootings have changed education. Teachers and students receive more training on the subject, buildings and security systems have been revamped, and many people live in fear of the next time a disgruntled student might strike.
Teachers are often the ones on the front lines when disaster strikes, and as such, they are put in an incredibly tricky position and sometimes have the power to end a tragedy before it really even begins.
Or that’s what one phys ed teacher and his supporters from Fulton County, Georgia, thought, until he intervened in a tense situation involving a student and was soundly reprimanded by the school board for doing so.
Kenneth Miller is also a coach at Tri-Cities High School in East Point. On Aug. 20, school officials who’d planned an outdoor pep rally were alerted to the possibility that some students were “planning on doing something,” and reports of students with guns on campus started coming in, Miller told Fox News, according to The Charlotte Observer.
The principal called Miller and they started to investigate the claims. At some point, Miller was speaking with a female student who has been described by witnesses as “belligerent” and “aggressive,” according to the New York Post.
Miller was asking her where the guns were when she reacted. According to WXIA, she then threw a stapler at him, and according to WAGA-TV, she knocked his phone out of his hand. Miller then grabbed her, holding her until police — who were present during the interview — took over.
Later, a search revealed that the girl had brought a loaded gun to school and it had been in her bookbag.
The WXIA report is below:
Instead of praising Miller’s quick actions, the school board has strongly reprimanded his conduct, first firing him but later downgrading the firing to a suspension.
“The district administration does not support Mr. Miller’s actions relating to this event and believes his conduct failed to meet the professional expectations it has for employees,” Fulton County Schools said in a statement, according to WXIA.
“Mr. Miller inappropriately intervened in a student matter being handled by school administrators and law enforcement. Mr. Miller acted outside of the scope of his authority and responsibilities.
“Mr. Miller’s conduct resulted in an escalation of a physical altercation with a student in crisis, which conflicts with district expectations to deescalate in these types of situations. Mr. Miller has not exhausted his due process rights at this time and remains on full, paid administrative leave. The district will not engage Mr. Miller or his attorneys in a public debate on this matter, but instead will allow the facts to drive the outcome of any related decision.”
According to Miller’s attorney, Allen Lightcap, the witnesses found no issue with Miller’s behavior.
“[Officer] Cleveland and [AP] Lawson corroborated Miller’s account that [the student] was the aggressor, was highly agitated, and smacked the phone out of Miller’s hand,” Lightcap said in the Personal Investigation Report from September, according to WXIA.
However, Lightcap told the Observer, the change in Miller’s punishment means from termination to suspension means he will not be able to call witnesses on his own behalf.
But he is confident his client acted correctly.
“Teachers get put in terribly dangerous situations and they have to be supported by the school systems that employ them,” Lightcap told WXIA. “Those teachers are our first line … of defense against guns and other types of terrible violence that happens in schools.
Miller received the suspension notice on March 4. Lightcap appealed it on March 9, according to the Observer.
The whole incident has left Miller frustrated, especially because he — and many who support him — believe he directly helped prevent a tragedy.
“I don’t feel like I did anything wrong,” he told WXIA. “I only adhered to what Fulton County School Board policy says you’re allowed to do.”
“During that process, we located guns,” he added to WAGA-TV. “We saved lives.”
As the months drag on, Miller’s job is still in limbo, and the frustration only increases.
“Coach Miller is the reason all of metro Atlanta does not know the date of August 20, 2021,” Lightcap said in a statement, according to the Observer. “That’s because he averted another tragic school shooting that day, and no one was hurt.
“Everyone went home safe. Coach Miller is the reason these guns were found.”
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.