Michael Miller was a Mount Nittany Middle School teacher in the State College Area School District for 9 years until he was charged with four felonies for allegedly having a sexual relationship with a student he had tutored for four years.
He allegedly admitted to having sex with the girl and later pleaded guilty in 2007, according to court records, which did not detail his sentence.
Miller is one of 204 ex-educators across the state - several of them taught in local school districts - who have been banned from teaching in public schools in Pennsylvania. But they are still being paid despite their admitted misconduct, and in some cases, arrests, guilty pleas and convictions.
A Pittsburgh Post-Gazette investigation revealed the names and allegations against former public school employees who receive pension benefits despite their teaching certifications being revoked or surrendered by court order, voluntarily or in lieu of discipline. Miller receives $283 per month.
"The state’s pension forfeiture law covers only certain crimes and must relate to the educator’s job duties to forfeit a pension," the Post-Gazette reported, referring to members of the Public School Employees Retirement System (PSERS). "It also limits forfeiture to PSERS members who commit crimes against students."
Miller's guilty plea meant he did not have to give up his pension. He's not the only area educator to collect a pension after allegations or convictions of crimes.
Former Bald Eagle Area educator Andrew Paolini surrendered his certifications in 2004 after allegations of inappropriate relationships with students. Paolini's monthly pension is $298.
Thomas Huff, a former Mount Union Area School District teacher, was convicted of corruption of minors. He was charged after allegedly having sex with a student in his classroom and home. He receives $3,224 per month.
Former Clearfield Area School District educator Lisa Boyle allegedly "engaged in inappropriate communications and interactions with students." Her monthly pension is $1,618. She surrendered her license in lieu of discipline.
Michael Lyle, a former Bellefonte Area School District teacher, had his license revoked for allegedly having "graphic sexual communication with a student" and using school resources to buy sex toys online. He receives $324 per month.
Former State College teacher William Long was convicted twice of DUI and receives $324 per month.
Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said in 2017 he wants the state to stop paying for the retirement of people who are convicted of crimes. He audited the State Employees Retirement System and the Public School Employees Retirement System in 2017.
“As I highlighted in my audits this year of the two state employee retirement systems, it is clear there are problems with the language of the Public Employee Pension Forfeiture Act that need to be fixed immediately,” DePasquale said in a statement. “It boggles the mind that taxpayers are on the hook to pay pension benefits to any public employee who pleads guilty to, or is convicted of, a crime committed in the course of their public service.”