Family of Olathe woman with special needs says daughter wrongly - KCTV5 News

Family of Olathe woman with special needs says daughter wrongly branded on state registry

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Megan Miller’s parents say they didn’t even know their daughter was being investigated until the investigation was closed and decisions were made. (KCTV5) Megan Miller’s parents say they didn’t even know their daughter was being investigated until the investigation was closed and decisions were made. (KCTV5)

Megan Miller worked as a teacher’s aide at an Olathe daycare.

On March 15, 2012, five kids wandered off the playground. The daycare sits next to a busy road. One child was found in the parking lot, other children were found down in a ditch. Thankfully, no children were injured.

The police were called and so was the Kansas Department for Children and Families. No criminal charges were filed but DCF determined the adults in charge were neglectful. Two lead teachers and Miller were all placed on the Kansas Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.

“She got swept up in a mess,” says Miller's mom, Sharon Miller.

Megan Miller’s parents say they didn’t even know their daughter was being investigated until the investigation was closed and decisions were made.

“We were very frightened that her name would be on this type of a registry and then the consequences of that were frightening to us,” says Megan Miller’s dad, Mark Miller.

The Millers say communication breakdowns occurred when Megan Miller didn’t hand them a letter and DCF paperwork indicates she didn’t return phone messages.

Her parents say once critical information was shared, DCF wouldn’t budge. Her parents point out she found her job through a DCF program. So, the same organization helping her is now blackballing her.

The Millers have spent years and thousands of dollars trying to remove their daughter from that registry.

A person on the registry is not allowed to work or volunteer near children at places like schools and churches. Megan Miller has cafeteria skills but is not allowed to work in a school cafeteria.

Megan Miller’s parents say their daughter’s disabilities are well documented through medical and school records.

She suffered brain damage as an infant when she contracted spinal meningitis. She had a special educational plan throughout school and participates in the Special Olympics.

She is considered disabled by the government and participates in state programs to keep her active in the community.

KCTV5 News Investigates

KCTV5 interviewed the teacher who discovered the kids were missing.

Paige Cooper was a teacher and parent of a 2-year-old who wandered off.

Cooper said she agrees with the decision to place the lead teachers on the registry because they weren’t doing their jobs. One was on her phone.

She says she’s stunned to learn Megan Miller was lumped in with those teachers. She says Megan Miller was the only adult interacting with the children when she checked the playground. And she says it was clear to every who worked there that Megan Miller assisted teachers and was never in charge.

“I don't think she should be that's ridiculous. The other two should be because they weren't doing their jobs. I just never would have thought Megan. To put her on that list?” questions Cooper.

KCTV5 reviewed original investigation reports from 2012. Megan Miller was incorrectly labeled as “one of three teachers.”

The report never mentions Megan Miller is a person with disabilities.

KCTV5 spent time with Megan Miller who has found another job working as a stocker at store. She talked about how she loves to read books to children and help take care of them.

“They give me happiness. And I’m good with kids and they are just fun to be around,” she said.

Megan Miller discussed her favorite sports and TV shows. However, she had trouble with abstract questions like “how the registry works,” and she couldn’t remember the name of the daycare.

Child Abuse and Neglect Registry

More than 40 states have active child abuse and neglect registries. Some are public and people can log on and check names just like you would on a sex offender registry. Many interface with police and courts.

In Kansas, the registry is maintained by DCF. The department says only a small percentage of investigations lead to placement on the private list. More than 33,000 people are currently on the registry.

The list in Kansas is not connected to courts. So, some people with clean records are placed on the registry, when DCF investigators verify a case of abuse and neglect.

Conversely, there are convicted criminals who have harmed children who are not on this list. Several police departments confirm not all criminal investigations involving children involve DCF.

KCTV5 spoke to the head of DCF about how the registry works and the decision to keep Megan Miller on the list. 

Phyllis Gilmore says the purpose of the registry is not to punish people but to keep children safe. She refused to answer the question if Megan Miller posed a danger to children.

Gilmore also pointed out that other investigators placed Megan Miller on the registry and that her role in the expungement process is to determine if there is new information or something that needs to be reconsidered.

Gilmore said she understands the parent’s concerns but indicated the way the registry works is not her call, the registry was created by politicians years ago.

“That is a legislative question it is a creature of the legislature. And you may I assume you probably know that there is national discussion going on about registry and some states at least one state specifically has done away with their registry. You are asking an important question,“ Gilmore said.

Gilmore provided an additional statement to KCTV5:

"Although it is also our priority to help people with disabilities obtain employment, above that, we have a duty to first keep children safe."

Legislative Leaders React

KCTV5 has been collecting and sharing information with the people who represent Megan Miller in Topeka.

We turned over documents related to the investigation, a letter written by the Millers, and portions of our raw interviews with Megan Miller, her parents and Cooper, the teacher and parent who discovered the kids were missing, you can watch it below.

This is the most recent letter written by Megan’s parents:

You can also read what lawmakers think about the decision to keep Megan on the registry:

KCTV5 will continue to report on Megan Miller’s case and how Kansas and Missouri registries work.

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