By Kilian Colin
“Mr. Miller is nothing but a bully, mocking people who want to oppose his political views.” –Kilian Colin, who has launched a Recall Jim Miller page on Facebook.
May 5, 2018 (El Cajon) -- I was just starting my breakfast before heading to school. I like to check news and social media while eating breakfast, and I noticed an article about a counseling intern at Hillsdale Middle School who had her contract revoked because she spoke to the press about the fact that the students who participated in the March 14 school walk out for Parkland were given detention. I was upset to learn that the intern’s First Amendment right to freedom of speech was violated. I decided to attend the next board meeting to speak to the board about this unfair action against the intern, who lost her job and was banned from applying to any future position in the district.
I headed to that board meeting on April 10. The room was completely full, so that I had to stand up by the wall waiting for my turn to make a public comment regarding this issue. The San Diego for Gun Violence Prevention (SD4GVP) volunteers were seated next to each other in two rows, wearing their shirts with logos that called for an end to gun violence. What was very interesting to me was Jim Miller, the Vice President of the School board, was wearing a shirt with a logo “Powered by The Second Amendment.”
I didn’t know anything about Mr. Miller before, but I was concerned to see someone on the school board in this district violating the dress code in a board meeting. I was also concerned to see Miller bringing partisan politics to school board meeting, while he got elected on a non-partisan slate. A man commenting in favor of the school board praised Mr. Miller for wearing the shirt, and in the same breath, praised the board for “not politicizing Parkland.” He asked Mr. Miller to stand up, and Mr. Miller responded by taking off his blazer to make sure that people saw the message on his shirt.
When another commenter informed Mr. Miller that his shirt violated the dress code, Mr. Miller responded by putting on an NRA hat. I realized at this point that Mr. Miller is nothing but a bully, mocking people who want to oppose his political views. When it was my turn to make my public comment, I shared my experience growing up in Iraq, as an interfaith LGBTQ child, who was bullied and had no teacher to stand up for me because they were afraid of being retaliated against by the government. I told the board members that the counseling intern is every one of us. I looked at Mr. Miller and reminded him the First Amendment was written before the Second Amendment.
After a time, Mr. Miller switched his hat to one with the logo of the San Diego County Gun Owners Association. The next speaker was Michael Schwartz, the Executive Director of the San Diego County Gun Owners Association. He also praised the board for not politicizing Parkland. When he spoke and turned around and told the SD4GVP members that they were the reason that police officers were needed at this meeting, even though everyone was seated and no one was being disruptive. I was completely shocked to see that he was allowed by the board to speak in such an intimidating tone against other members of the community, especially since the board had stated at the beginning of the public comment session that speakers are not to address the audience. The board said nothing and allowed the vitriol to continue.
When I went home, I googled Mr. Miller’s name. He was removed from the Superior Court for ethics violations. I was completely shocked to see a disgraced ex-judge is on the board of the school district where my future children will be attending. Why would I trust someone to run my kids’ school when he is a disgraced politician?
I decided to attend and speak at the next board meeting on April 24. Other members of the community attended and most of them spoke publicly. I asked the board members to do their duty as public officials and said they must censure Mr. Miller actions. Some of the board members were being sarcastic with their body language when we were speaking. I told them eye rolling was not just inappropriate but also rude and offensive against their constituents.
The people of El Cajon deserve better than the unprofessional and simply rude behavior displayed by Mr. Miller and the rest of the Cajon Valley Unified District school board. Bullying does not belong in the school yard, and it does not belong on the school board.
The opinions in this editorial reflect the views of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of East County Magazine. To submit an editorial for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.