JACKSONVILLE — A Sherman resident who was fired in 2017 as director of the Springfield-based Illinois Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission when his bosses said they lacked confidence in his leadership has been hired as a manager at the state-funded Illinois School for the Deaf.
John Miller, 49, will be paid $77,640 per year and is scheduled to begin June 3 as the full-time dean of students for ISD’s high school dormitory, according to Illinois Department of Human Services spokeswoman Meghan Powers.
Powers, whose state agency runs ISD, said in an email Wednesday that Miller was “chosen as the most qualified for this position” at the Jacksonville school.
ISD educates about 220 deaf and hard of hearing students in prekindergarten through high school and in a post-secondary “transitional-living program.” Half of ISD students live on campus at 125 S. Webster Ave.
The hiring of the former director of the deaf commission for another state job stunned several leaders in central Illinois’ deaf community and added to a list of controversies making news the past two years at the school.
“I’m speechless,” said Deloris Summers, president of the Jacksonville Community Center for the Deaf. “I believe that if you’re fired from a state job … you shouldn’t be eligible for any other openings.”
The Jacksonville chapter of the Illinois Association of the Deaf issued a statement that said chapter members were “perplexed as to how that could have happened. We are concerned with the questionable state hiring practices of hiring a state employee that was recently fired from another state job.”
Miller didn’t respond to a phone message and an email seeking comment.
He was paid $81,528 per year when the board governing the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Commission — a state agency advocating for the needs of deaf people — voted unanimously in November 2017 to terminate Miller after 13 years as director.
The board member making the motion to fire Miller said the board had “lost confidence in his ability to lead the commission effectively going forward.”
Miller previously was put on paid administrative leave by the board.
Members of the Illinois Association of the Deaf, an all-volunteer advocacy group, had said Miller didn’t do enough to lobby the General Assembly for legislation benefiting the deaf community.
IAD members said the commission, part of the executive branch, also didn’t provide enough “information and referral” services to deaf people who are attempting to secure educational services in public schools, fighting discrimination on the job or having disputes with American Sign Language interpreters.
The association complained to the commission and the executive branch’s Office of Executive Inspector General in 2017 that Miller “harassed and attempted to intimidate several IAD members” and contacted one IAD member’s employer.
Miller, who is deaf and fluent in American Sign Language, will replace Andrea Simeone, who earned $85,968 annually and is retiring from the School for the Deaf, Powers said.