Friends show support for teacher

Judge receives letters saying educator not a threat, but a dedicated father who needs help

nwilson@thetribunenews.comMay 4, 2012 

Twelve letters were submitted to San Luis Obispo Superior Court in support of the San Luis Obispo teacher who allegedly wrote about “going postal” and threatened to kill himself and three others in an email to the San Luis Coastal Teachers Association in March.

Brian Sanford Miller, 55, who is on leave, has pleaded not guilty in San Luis Obispo Superior Court to two felony counts of making criminal threats and a misdemeanor of interfering with the peaceful conduct of activities at a school.

Miller’s supporters lobbied for a reduction of his $1 million bail, which Judge Michael Duffy reduced Thursday to $100,000.

As of Friday, Miller was not listed in County Jail, jail officials said, which means that he has posted bail and was released from custody under the set of conditions that Duffy ordered.

Those terms include complying with mental health counseling, prescribed medication, an ankle GPS tracking monitor, a GPS device attached to his car, and keeping away from school property and personnel.

Supporters called Miller a hard-working teacher over his 26 years in the classroom, a dedicated father of a special needs son whom he adopted and a passionate advocate for students.

“As longtime friends, we can unequivocally state that Brian is NOT a threat to anyone else,” one letter stated. “He is in obvious need of mental health support, and we have been concerned, for a while, that he had not yet recognized this need.”

Many of the letters submitted to Duffy through Miller’s attorney, Ken Cirisan, talked about how Miller showed patience, support and dedication to his special needs son, now 20.

“He could and would not let (his son) Jonathan fail, neither as a father nor a teacher, and Jonathan graduated high school,” the letter stated.

Friends wrote that Miller’s son continues to need guidance and support, which Miller cannot provide while in jail.

A combination of factors, including fatigue, frequent long distance visits to a sick mother in Los Angeles, a failure to get help with mental health issues and leave from teaching contributed to his breakdown, according to friends and family.

“I think all of these stressors led to his recent behaviors,” one writer said. “I think he was angry, but he was not violent towards anyone.”

Miller had expressed anger towards the school administration in a March 28 email attributed to him. He also is accused of visiting a continuation school March 29 where he had a verbal exchange with the principal.

Several supporters said Miller’s past work, including 12-hour days as a teacher over the years, should be taken into consideration.

Duffy warned Miller in court Thursday that he could be remanded back to County Jail if he broke terms of his bail. He’s scheduled to return to court May 17 before Duffy for further proceedings on his case.

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