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Moore school officials unaware of aide's convictions

Posted December 2, 2009
Updated December 3, 2009

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— A teacher's assistant with a criminal history worked for Moore County Schools for more than seven years without administrators knowing about her past.

Anita Evette Miller, 41, resigned Tuesday from her job at Southern Pines Elementary School after WRAL News asked Moore County Schools officials about her background. School district spokesman Tim Lussier declined to say whether the two actions were related.

Miller was indicted in April 2002 on an involuntary manslaughter charge in connection with an October 2001 wreck on N.C. Highway 211 that killed Brian Moore. Authorities said Miller was speeding when she tried to pass two cars and a school bus on a two-lane road, colliding head-on with Moore's car.

Seven months later, she landed a job as a substitute teacher in Moore County.

Lussier said the district has a long-standing policy barring employment to anyone with a felony charge or conviction. Officials said nothing in Miller's pre-employment background check indicated she had a pending felony charge against her. 

"We do have checks and balances that we do check, but when you have so many employees, it's hard to keep up with everyone and everything," said Kathy Farren, chairwoman of the Moore County Board of Education.

Miller was convicted of involuntary manslaughter in April 2004 and was placed on probation for three years.

A year later, while still a working as a substitute teacher, she was charged with embezzling $2,000 from a convenience store where she also worked. She pleaded guilty to misdemeanor larceny in the case and was ordered to repay the money and serve two years on probation.

Despite the two convictions, the school district hired her in January 2007 as a full-time teacher's assistant.

Lussier said school officials never received any complaints about Miller.

"If we do get a concern expressed to us about an employee, we will certainly check it out and investigate it," he said.

Still, some parents of Southern Pines Elementary students said they were alarmed to learn that a convicted felon had been working in the school.

"They're coming in contact with children, (and) they shouldn't be," parent Mike Russell said. "I always thought they needed to do a better job of screening people that they hire in the public schools to work with the children."

Farren said background checks have become stricter in recent years, but she said employees slip through the cracks in many businesses.

"I think it’s not something that doesn’t happen in a lot of places, not just in school systems, but in a lot of businesses,” she said.

Miller couldn't be reached Wednesday for comment.

34 Comments

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  • affirmativediversity Dec 3, 2009

    "One problem with the NC Criminal Justice System is that it is not set up to rehabilitate those who made mistakes, but to punish them and keep them in the system. Until they change ... no matter how hard they try to get back into the mainstream, will fail to be acceptable to others. No incentive here." per TaxMan
    -------------------------

    Are you serious?

    This woman was CONVICTED of a crime during which SOMEONE DIED...she was GIVEN PROBATION...she already had a job (ie. her chance to in "the mainstream") and what did she do...COMMITTED ANOTHER CRIME! Was her "probation revoked" .... APPARENTLY NOT...was she sent to prison when convicted the SECOND TIME...APPARENTLY NOT...instead she was given "more probation"...

    How is any of this TOO HARSH or "punitive" to you?

    Looks more like SHE GOT AWAY WITH MURDER and then took up STEALING as a hobby!

  • LocalYokel Dec 3, 2009

    yeah UNC PH.d, I agree that there are different types of felonies with some much worse than others and I also agree that our school systems are messed up. Those things said, the crime of killing someone with your car by aggressive driving should follow you around FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Its that serious. I do not accept that fatalities of innocent people by aggressive drivers should just be tolerated. I am a good driver and I expect the same from you. The only way I could have sympathy for a bad driver is if I was a bad driver myself and considered bad driving acceptable behavior. From the description of the car wreck Miller was involved in, she made a decision to drive aggressively and killed someone as a result of her decision. As a direct result of her decision, someone died. What if she killed you or someone you loved? I didn't know the person she killed but I think she should still have been in jail 7 months after she killed them instead of starting work for a school.

  • iron fist Dec 3, 2009

    Tax man you are 100% correct, not sure I like the name tax man it will soon be time to pay Uncle Sam or he can return what he has been using for the last year interest free. :)

  • artist Dec 3, 2009

    "I say shame on the Moore County School System, he who is without sin, caste the first stone... and shame on the public for not being more forgiving and remember it when you or a family member find yourselves in a similar situation, because we are all only human and it will happen someday!"

    Uh... I think the article is about the School system NOT knowing she had a very BAD criminal past (a death and an embezz. case is not minor by anyone's standards).

    The talk about forgiveness is insane - especially if she lied on her job application! Give her another chance? She got one... and supposedly lied!

    America is really starting to stink with crazy talk ..... I cannot believe the amount of people who continually come to the aid of criminals.

    Anybody want to talk about the person killed? How is their family doing? And what about the stolen money?

    ahh... forget it. I think she should be the next president!

  • Tax Man Dec 3, 2009

    One problem with the NC Criminal Justice System is that it is not set up to rehabilitate those who made mistakes, but to punish them and keep them in the system. Until they change that it is merely a retaliation system and those convicted, no matter how hard they try to get back into the mainstream, will fail to be acceptable to others. No incentive here.

  • rukiddingme84 Dec 3, 2009

    To dlc66: While I agree with giving people a second chance and allowing people to be reformed, I have to disagree with your statement that 99.9 percent of us make the same mistake she did! Wrong!! Most of us follow the laws of the road and drive in a safe manner. I am sorry, but passing 2 cars and a school bus on a 2 lane NC road and causing a fatality because of your carelessness is quite a bit different than "not driving with others in mind". Her second offense for embezzlement is a serious conviction as well. God bless the young woman, and I hope she is given a chance to thrive in life, but the elementary classroom is not the place to reform someone! Shame on the Moore County BOE and school system for making excuses for someone not doing their job!

  • iron fist Dec 3, 2009

    She has worked for the school system for seven years and no problem? Let the lady work. She paid her dues. People do deserve a second chance.

  • dlc66 Dec 3, 2009

    What is the point in a REFORM system if society does not give people a chance, my question is what was her performance as a TA? And who got WRAL involved and why? I think we all need to read and understand the definitions of MISTAKE and SECOND CHANCE. This person is not a child molester she made a mistake on the road that 99.9 percent of us make daily, not driving with others in mind. And as for the embezzlement, yes it was wrong and she was convicted and punished in a way the courts saw fit, how is this woman going to make a living, or would you rather pay for her to live off welfare because no one will hire her. I say shame on the Moore County School System, he who is without sin, caste the first stone... and shame on the public for not being more forgiving and remember it when you or a family member find yourselves in a similar situation, because we are all only human and it will happen someday!

  • Eduardo1 Dec 3, 2009

    For those of you who want to have CONVICTED FELONS work with our children, then YOU work to change the rules, so that certain types of felonies can pass muster. i do believe in rehabilitation
    BUT in my mind such felons as Murders, rapists, phedofiles etc should be considered never rehabilitated.
    I do not know what her job application had on it, asking if she had ever be convicted of a felony. If it did and she said NO, than it is a slam dunk case.

  • Eduardo1 Dec 3, 2009

    Ms Ferrin, What a WIMP excuse. When it comes to the safety of OUR children & staff, no one with a felony on there records should fall under the radar. I do not mean to be callous but head(s) should roll for this breach of security, and that you should apologize for your statement

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