Millage out as St. Thomas More principal

Millage out as St. Thomas More principal

CHAMPAIGN — Tim Millage is no longer principal of The High School of St. Thomas More in Champaign, the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Monday.

The school's assistant principal is now its acting principal, and the school's board will begin next semester to search for a new principal for next school year, according to an email that diocese Chancellor Patricia Gibson sent to parents.

Millage declined to comment on his departure. Acting Principal Mike Scholz said he doesn't know the reason for the change.

"I don't know anything about it," Scholz said, and didn't know he'd be acting principal until Saturday afternoon. He was formerly the school's assistant principal and was appointed to his current position by Peoria Diocese Bishop Daniel Jenky.

The diocese's superintendent of schools, Brother William Dygert, could not be reached for comment, but the email from the diocese said he will direct the search for the new principal.

"This process will follow diocesan guidelines and also the provisions of the board's by-laws," the email said.

In September, Millage told The News-Gazette the he felt drawn to Catholic education and away from his former career as a public educator.

"I felt like I had to check my faith in the glove compartment every day," Millage said of working public schools.

He converted to Catholicism 17 years ago and "my faith has improved through these kids," Millage said.

News-Gazette archives indicate he started at St. Thomas More in 2003.

The school was challenged by declining population, he told The News-Gazette. The school had 350 students last year and had 295 earlier this fall.

"But I'm encouraged," Millage said. "It's never been easy here. We started with 70 students in 2000."

He also said the school has always been blessed with donors willing to step up.

"When I express a need, (someone) finds a way to help me," he said.

News-Gazette reporters Meg Dickinson and Debra Pressey contributed to this report.

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scott48 wrote on November 15, 2011 at 11:11 am

It is a terrible shame that some people can buy their way into a school and buy their kids onto teams for playing time when they shouldn't be playing. This should have never happened. The principle did his job and there were even students that came forward and said that the incident was made up. I hope you the parent or parents one day look at this and understand that you have hurt alot of people with this. And you say you are good Catholics.

FactChecker wrote on November 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm

If people were able to "buy" their way into a school or onto a sports team, who was accepting their money? The Principal? The School? The Diocese?  Your anger seems misplaced - shouldn't you be more angry with an organization that could be bought, rather than the person buying?

whatisreallygoingon wrote on November 15, 2011 at 3:11 pm

First, there is much more to this story that is not being told--- a little digging will uncover some dirt.  Second, for those who are familiar with this situation...This is a shame!!!  Many say that the greatest single cause of Atheism today is Christians, who acknowledge their faith with words, but not actions.  This is the perfect example of that.  St. Thomas More has one primary concern- the money!!!  Nevermind what is right, what kind of example they are setting for students, or what innocent people get hurt along the way. 

Hardtobelieve wrote on November 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

The High School of St Thomas More has lost an excellent principal who provided unceasing support, encouragement and leadership to the students.  He took the time to get to know the kids, and was never too busy to talk with them whenever they were having a tough day.  He is exactly the kind of person that we needed as the leader of this school - someone that the kids knew would always be in their corner.  How unfair that a wonderful principal should be sacrificed due to a situation that was a complete fabrication.  How sad that the truth didn't matter.

gettothetruth wrote on November 15, 2011 at 9:11 pm

In my opinion - we cannot say that it happened or did not happen unless we were there.  Also, none of us can do anything about the consequences or the principal leaving.  So let's not bash anyone on the internet.  If you have your own opinions - keep them to yourself. 

martha may wrote on November 16, 2011 at 8:11 am

Let's not bash anyone on the interent?! Really, let's just sweep it under the rug? Come on, the truth is that the girls that reported the incedent fabricated a story, maybe as a joke, and it got more attention than they thought, then it was tooooo late.  The parents need to be held responsible because THEY know the truth as well.  The girls have a history of lying for attention....this time it just went a little toooo far.  Shame, another one bites the dust because the diocese had a knee jerk reaction and instead of investigating "the story" further, they believed the BIG DONORS daughters. HMMMM....very interesting.  Hope they can sleep at night knowing that this man's life changed because of a big fat lie.  I'm disgusted.

FactChecker wrote on November 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

I am wondering if there was an investigation of the fabricated story and if you read the report? Otherwise, unless you were present, everything you are hearing is all heresay.  And if a child makes up a story, how is it that the parents would know the truth?  Wouldn't the child lie to the parents, too?

vnconn wrote on November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

So, gettothetruth, its ok for you to voice your opinion, but everyone else has to keep them to themselves.  I'm sorry but this is still a free country and the News Gazette has opened this story to comments so people can talk about their opinion of the story.  Awe, and lets not bash anyone on the internet lest we might "offend" somebody.  Good grief, I am not going to "keep my opinions to myself" while you are free to speak yours.

Eisenhower wrote on November 16, 2011 at 4:11 am

So,  . . . what REALLY happened?

Feltrino wrote on November 16, 2011 at 6:11 am

By all means, fill us in.  Tim is a nice guy who has been in this community all his life.  If he is going to be pilloried, someone needs to tell the part of the story the school will not. He deserves no less.

A Very Busy Mom wrote on November 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

Tim Millage is an honorable man who has lived his life by example.  How unfortunate that he was fired without the facts being investigated.  I hope that the community stands behind him until all the facts are revealed.

ittfmw wrote on November 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

The family involved has a history of calling the shots, and their brand of bullying has been going on for quite some time.  This is the reason that so many families have pulled their kids out of Saint Matthew and St. Thomas More.  Enough talking to the kids about bullying - that's just a bandaid.  Let's get to the root of the problem and knock the parents down a few notches.  Why do you think their kids feel so entitled?  Because THAT'S what the parents have taught them.

choco640 wrote on November 16, 2011 at 12:11 pm

It would be nice to hear the complete story and facts, instead of everyone hinting at it.  It is going to come out eventually. 

Eisenhower wrote on November 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

I have known Tim Millage since he was appointed Principal at STM, one of the most important positions in the Diocese and thus one of the most politically vulnerable calling for serious political skills.  To my eye he was good at this, and accomplished at working the crowd, especially the well-heeled crowd.  And while this is essential for a private school existentially dependent on generous donations, there are other scholastic requirements for which he was poorly suited.  Tim was an ex-jock and a product of the public schools were mediocrity was acceptable as exceptional, and real intellectual candle power was so rare as to be irrelevant.  And in that vein, frankly, I am surprised he wasn't sacked years ago.  But those are academic and administrative failings, not moral ones:  Tim is as morally upright as any human can be, and I can no more imagine his moral terpitude than my own father's.  So, . . . if Millage was run off by a cabal of over-entitled hypocritical Catholic hypocrites, well  . . . he played that game and so be it.  But if he is being tarred by unsubstantiated allegations of inappropriate legal, ethical, or moral conduct, I don't believe, and would readily join in standing by him until the evidence -- subject to rebuttal and cross-examination -- convinced me otherwise.

Feltrino wrote on November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

To quote Twain, "It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.

This post is so filled with grammatical errors and misspellings that it is difficult to take the author's assessment of "real intellectual candle power" seriously.  Despite, or as a result of, his "public school education", he did manage two graduate degrees.

Tim, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.  Or, in the short term, you could hire a good lawyer.

Eisenhower wrote on November 17, 2011 at 1:11 pm

You are right, of course, Feltrino; my grammar and spelling have suffered terribly in my dotage.  But a misspelling, an omitted objective pronoun, and a particularly hoary redundancy do not make me a fool, nor my points less relevant.  I stand by the thrust of my observations: that Tim Millage is an honest, moral, and decent man who over time failed a difficult set of administrative challenges that he could have handled with a little more equanimity and a little less partiality.

Graduate degrees, being readily available by the bushel these days, by themselves proffer little gauge  of intellectual ability, and even less substantiation of good sense.


Feltrino wrote on November 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

I would agree with you that a degree, any degree, does not come with good sense.  I would disagree that graduate degrees are "readily available by the bushel these days".  If they are, I'll take a peck.  However, I do appreciate your reference to a dated unit of measurement. 

I stand by the thrust of my observations (supported by your admissions): that I have difficulty accepting the assessment of intellectual capacity from an individual who acknowledges his dotage, or diminished intellectual capacity. 

needs to stop wrote on November 16, 2011 at 6:11 pm

Yes, I am speaking out on the seriousness of the happenings at The High School of St. Thomas More. For the students that were involved in this, shame on you! I am very tired of young adults acting badly, not taking responsibility or accountability for your actions. Poor or bad behavior should not go unpunished nor should it be looked upon as “OUT OF SIGHT OUT OF MIND”. What are you young adults going to do when you get out into the real world and mommy and daddy are no longer there to bail you out or make up excuses for poor or bad behavior? This is not how life works!<?xml:namespace prefix = o />

A man that was committed to young adults and their futures, a man that was committed to Catholic education is no longer a part of The High School of St. Thomas More. More importantly his job position was taken from him in a time of economic uncertainty. He is a husband, a father a caregiver a provider for his family and now he has no job. Did the people that were involved in this heinous act even stop and consider the impact on the future of the person they chose as their scape goat? This is not the way Christians are supposed to act or treat their fellow brothers or sisters.

The high school and the Peoria Diocese I feel are not acting responsibly with the issues at hand. We the community of The High School of St. Thomas More received an automated voice recording telling us of the leadership change at the high school. None of us have received an automated voice recording saying that the school board of directors will hold a special meeting to discuss the issues and inform the school community of what is going on so that there will be no more hearsay or misconstrued comments or stories going around. Issues are far too often over looked and bigger more complicated issues arise from this. We all have seen this in the media over the last week with the happenings at Penn State. The school board and the Peoria Diocese need to step up to the plate and give the school community solid informative answers.

In the know wrote on November 16, 2011 at 8:11 pm

Drink COKE and write the Diocese of Peoria to correct what appears to be a bad misunderstanding. I commend the students of STM for staying true to Mr. Millage and showing the highest level of maturity dealing with this crisis in Champaign County!

I-L-L wrote on November 16, 2011 at 9:11 pm

Can someone explain what exactly happened? People are alluding to things but it isn't clear what really happened.

FactChecker wrote on November 16, 2011 at 10:11 pm

If the Diocese hasn't told anyone the details surrounding Tim Millage, then how does anyone know he was fired?  Do the employment laws in Illinois allow a company to give details about the termination of an employee?  My understanding is that a company opens itself up to a lawsuit if it discusses employee terminations - they can not tell anyone the reason for termination because it could jeopardize the employee from getting a new job elsewhere.  I think everyone is looking in the wrong direction - if you want answers, you probably need to go to the only person who actually knows ALL the facts:  Tim Millage.

Feltrino wrote on November 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

"Do the employment laws in Illinois allow a company to give details about the termination of an employee?"

Yes, they do.  The law certainly does not prohibit it.  If a company discloses the truth, and the person does not get a job as a result, the company is not liable.  That doesn't mean the person won't sue.  In fact, there are circumstances that require that a company tell another company about the firing of an employee or risk liability for not warning the other employer.

Knowing the answer (getting fired) is not necessarily consistent with the facts.  It sounds like a lot of people know the facts and they do not add up to the answer.  If this is the case, the school is not likely going to speak for fear of liability.

FactChecker wrote on November 17, 2011 at 7:11 am

I spoke to a human resources director who told me that if the Diocese/school were to put out the details of this situation, they would be opening themselves up to a huge lawsuit.  On the other hand, Mr. Millage is free to speak about it.

And if there were children involved in a situation that caused his termination, giving those details is only going to make matters worse for the children.  I don't believe anyone has the right to know the details of this except the people involved.  All the speculation and accusations are not productive for the school or the students.


Feltrino wrote on November 17, 2011 at 8:11 am

Check your facts, and the credentials of your human resources director.  There is no law that prohibits employers from discussing dismissals, it happens all the time (Why was JoePa fired?).  As I said, doing so does not prevent the employee from filing suit.  On the other hand, keeping the details quiet doesn't prevent the employee from suing either.  You imply that there is a law that prevents employers from speaking.  No such law exists.  A suit is a civil matter, not a criminal matter.  Either party is free to speak about it.

I'm so glad you are concerned about the productivity of the school and the students.  How about the man who lost his job for questionable reasons?  The school will go on and the children may or may not learn, like they always have, but a good man is without a job.  Anyone who presently has a child at STM or is considering enrolling their child at STM may have an interest in the details.

FactChecker wrote on November 22, 2011 at 12:11 pm

Feltrino, I appreciate your comments about there being no law preventing employers from discussing employee dismissals.  In trying to verify my facts, I have spoken with several people from different human resources companies.  It is their understanding that a company can not disclose the reason for an employee leaving the company - they can only say whether the employee would be elegible for rehire.  When I pressed for more information about that, I was told that if an employer gives details, and the dismissed employee can't get a job because of what the employer said, the employer is open to a huge lawsuit.  That being said, it sounds to me like this is more company policy than law.

I am trying to put myself in the position of Mr. Millage - if he did something that wasn't according to policy, and if he was terminated for that, would he want the community to know?  Would he want potential employers to know?  What I am gathering from the other comments here is just that.  He did nothing inappropriate, but possibly against policy.

In Joe Pa's case, he was involved in a Grand Jury Investigation which was made public and THEN he got fired.  Did Penn State come out and explain their reasons for the firing?  We just concluded it was because of the information in his testimony.

I have great respect for Tim Millage.  I am sorry to see him go.  He is currently declining to speak about this which tells me he doesn't want anyone to know.  We should all respect his decision.

dogeatdog wrote on November 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

This doesn't surprize me. A few years ago the theater director who got INCREDIBLE results from kids for years all the way back to Holy Cross was wacked, ostensibly because of people with "influence" and big mouths. While I don't know the details, it smells like a good man was done wrong.

hellokitty wrote on November 17, 2011 at 9:11 am

Athough Tim Millage is a good person, there is very little good that can be said of his leadership abilities.  Unfortunately, he was an example of the Peter Principal in action.  He was known to his employees to be ineffectual and unable to make a decision.  Most felt he would "throw them under the bus" in a heartbeat to grab that almighty dollar.  If the truth be known, his staff has been calling for his resignation for years. 

vnconn wrote on November 17, 2011 at 12:11 pm

As someone prior to me mentioned I would like to know more about this story, the article doesn't really say a whole lot but it sounds like there is a lot of speculation.  Perhaps the News Gazette needs to do more digging and put out an update to this.  If that was done in the actual paper I apologize as I do not have time to sit down and read the paper on a regular basis.  This is something I notice with this paper quite often, it seems like not enough digging is done.  Either that or there are too many people in this town hiding information which is highly possible.

Commonsenseman wrote on November 18, 2011 at 8:11 am

I agree, what did happen here? why are there all these vague comments from some angry parents about "something" that happened, what happened?  If the police were involved isnt it a matter of public record?

more2thestory wrote on November 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

For those wanting to know what this all about...

There was a locker room incident involving (6?) students. Student 1 reported the incident to school offcials. The police were called, investigated, and determined no further police action was warranted. Mr. Millage determined no punishable offense had occured. The Diocese disagreed and wanted students punished. Mr. Millage was fired (or resigned? or asked to resign?). Students involved have been absent from school for many days now (suspended? expelled?). Some teachers of these students are not even aware as to why these students are not in school.

While I am not directly involved in the case, the above is my best assessment based on reliable sources in the Catholic community as to the facts of what happened.

Why all the fuss? The subtext here is that Student 1 who reported the incident is a member of a well off family who has donated a lot of money to the Catholic school system over the years (kudos to them). The perception is that the Dioceses decsion to punish students involved and fire Mr. Millage was influened by this.  It might be true, or not. We may likely never know.

In my opinion, the Dioceses has seriously bungled this incident. Mr. Millage, a pillar of the formation of St. Tomas More school, should never have been fired over this. Adding to the fiasco is the decision to not explain the firing, which fuels the rumour mill. Student 1 and the family are being pilloried for something that might not be true. The Dioceses choices here reinforce negative perceptions of the Church's ability to correctly handle incidents involving children and its susceptibility to financial influence.

I feel sorry for the next Principal. That person will always have to fear the Dioceses behind their back second guessing every decision. In this case it was Mr. Millages job to decide what to do. He did his job and based his decision on everything he knew from day to day interaction on the spot and his knowledge of these students.

nooneknowsthefacts wrote on November 18, 2011 at 9:11 am

Were you there? Are you directly involved?  If not, then you don't know what happened.  Stop spreading rumors.

Commonsenseman wrote on November 18, 2011 at 3:11 pm

if you know better feel free to tell us, otherwise why do you care if someone else tells us what going on instead of acting all secretive

Feltrino wrote on November 18, 2011 at 10:11 am

I appreciate the posting, this story has lacked any hint of detail.  As you already have, some will scold you for spreading rumor and they will try to debate the veracity of your account.  That aside, there is little argument that your evaluation of the manner in which the Diocese has chosen to deal with this situation only serves to perpetuate the public image the church has.  In its effort to project a certain public image, the church continues to conduct itself in a manner that only serves to reinforce an entirely different image.

simplytrue wrote on November 22, 2011 at 4:11 pm

Dear ladies and gentleman of the jury, those with inquisitive minds, the misinformed, and the cyberbullies: you have taken the opportunity to specualte, express your opinions, and spread rumors regarding recent happenings at The High School of Saint Thomas More. I can only tell you from reading your speculation, rumors, and malicious opinions that you are clearly misinformed and dead wrong. So, listen up, and chew on this because I'm going to dispel the rumors and, hopefully, bring an end to this cyberbullying.

First, there are rumors of a rape at STM. There was none. There was an incident of gross disobedience that occurred involving students. The incident was reported to police as it should have been and as mandated by law. Per the article in the NG, the incident was investigated by police, and there were no findings or criminal charges. Apporopriate student discipline was handed out; however, there were no expulsions. That's all that can and will be said. Matters of student discipline, and the help and welfare of students are private and confidential as mandated by law. There is nothing more to discuss.

In addition, it has been rumored that the recent change in leadership was a result of the handling of this incident. That can neither be confirmed nor denied. Personnel matters are confidential. All that was announced by the Diocese was that there was a change in leadership. However, it was common knowledge throughout the STM community that Mr. Millage has spoken for years about retiring simultaneously with his youngest daughter's graduation. Nevertheless, if there is to be any comment about his reason for leaving that would be Mr. Millage's responsibility.

Lastly and most importantly, it has been widely circulated that a certain student and family used undue influence and are the cause for this incident being investigated and the change in leadership. Nothing could be further from the truth. The misconduct of students involved stands alone as to how this situation unfolded. To hold responsible a courageous student or a supportive family for doing the right this is absolutely wrong.

In closing, STM fosters an environment of respect and reverence, it is a wonderful place, with great teachers, for young people to develop and build a foundation for their future. Those of you who want to trade rumor and innuendo should think twice about attempting to tear down something that is so important to the lives of young people.

champfred89 wrote on November 22, 2011 at 5:11 pm

"apporopriate student discipline was handed out; however, there were no expulsions. That's all that can and will be said. Matters of student discipline, and the help and welfare of students are private and confidential as mandated by law. "

Since you are in the know, I would assume you just broke the law!