A woman who was White House adviser Stephen Miller’s third-grade teacher has been placed on paid leave after she shared recollections of him as a young pupil with a reporter this week.
Gail Pinsker, a spokeswoman for the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, said school officials were reviewing concerns about whether Nikki Fiske had improperly released private student information.
Fiske, who has taught Franklin Elementary School in Santa Monica for 30 years, painted an unflattering portrait of Miller as a third-grader in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter. She said Miller was a messy kid who she was always trying to get to clean up his desk, “a strange dude” who would eat glue off of his arm.
“I remember being concerned about him — not academically,” she said. “But he had such strange personal habits. He was a loner and isolated and off by himself all the time.”
She said she wrote her concerns into his school record — “I had a lot of them,” she said — but that she could not remember all of them now, 25 years later.
“When the school principal had a conference with Stephen’s parents, the parents were horrified. So the principal took some white-out and blanked out all my comments,” she said. “Of course, Stephen wasn’t political then — it wasn’t until later that he started to make waves.”
Fiske did not immediately return messages left at phone numbers for her listed in public records.
Miller’s childhood in Santa Monica, a liberal beachside enclave in Los Angeles, has been subject to considerable scrutiny since his appointment as a senior adviser to the president. Miller is considered a hard-liner on issues such as immigration in the White House, and had a significant role in the changes that resulted in the family separation crisis at the border. Miller’s uncle, David S. Glosser wrote a scathing op-ed earlier this year that highlighted the family’s own immigration history to the United States and accused Miller of being a hypocrite. And the family’s former rabbi denounced Miller in a Rosh Hashanah sermon that drew wide coverage in September.