KEARNEY — After allegedly wrecking his car in the woods near Lake of the Ozarks and suffering a head injury Friday, March 26, Kearney School District Superintendent Matt Miller was issued a citation for suspicion of driving under the influence.
In a released statement, Miller said he is contesting the matter.
“It is early in the legal process and the facts of the situation are still being gathered. Due to the nature of the situation, I immediately notified the Board of Education,” he said. “I understand that the incident will create questions and concerns, and I want to be transparent with our school community. I deeply regret that this situation has developed and understand it may serve as a distraction to some of our students, staff and community members.”
The incident occurred around 1 a.m. Friday. According to Camden County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Chris Twitchel, a deputy made contact with Miller walking in the road after finding a Lincoln passenger car registered to Miller crashed in the woods near Horseshoe Bend Parkway and Duckhead Road in Lake Ozark. “During the roadside interview, there was some talk about him driving and being involved in an accident. I believe the officer smelled the odor of intoxicants omitting from his breath, so he was asked to submit to sobriety testing and therefore was arrested on probable cause of driving while intoxicated,” Twitchel told the Courier-Tribune, adding Miller refused a breathalyzer test.
While the school district would neither confirm nor deny why Miller may have been in the area, the timeline of the accident and subsequent arrest coincides with the last day of the Missouri Association of School Administrators' spring conference, which was being held at the Lodge of Four Seasons. The hotel and conference event space is less than a mile from Horseshoe Bend Parkway.
A search warrant was obtained to test his blood, Twitchel said, adding results should be back in about a month.
School Board President Mark Kelly said the board was made aware of the situation and that the board has “high expectations for the character and conduct of our employees.”
“Dr. Miller knows this. He has been open and honest about this incident. Within hours, he proactively and voluntarily shared the information with me and the other Board of Education members,” said Kelly. “Dr. Miller is a good and decent man who has never been accused of anything like this before. We will trust the legal process to work and provide a conclusion to what has been cited. While this issue is being investigated and resolved, we affirm our steadfast commitment to Dr. Miller as the leader of our school system. At the conclusion of this process, if there have been any legal or policy violations, the Board of Education will address them at that time.”
Communications Director Ray Weikal, in one of his first official capacities since starting employment with the school district Monday, March 29, said Miller has not been placed on leave and is still actively working in full capacity as the district’s leader.
“I am humbled and grateful to have the unwavering support of the Board of Education and executive team. I take my role as superintendent of Kearney Schools very seriously and understand that my actions reflect on our community. While this matter is being addressed, I will continue to be a dedicated servant of the district and carry forward our important mission of providing an exceptional education for all of our children. I hope that my handling of the situation serves as an example of how to persevere in the face of adversity,” Miller said.
This is a confidential personnel matter, reads a statement attributed to school administrators. “We are letting the statements from Dr. Miller and Mr. Kelly stand and will not be commenting any further on this situation. Dr. Miller has the full support of the KSD Board of Education. We are focusing on teaching and learning,” reads the statement.
“The qualities and skills that led us to choose Dr. Miller to lead KSD remain. He is a thoughtful, inspiring and innovative public education leader,” said Kelly. “We have big, important work to do in KSD. Our community is emerging from a global pandemic. We will continue forward with Dr. Miller in the lead and continue to focus on ensuring that every child in KSD is taught and equipped to achieve their dreams and thrive.”
Although arrested and issued a citation, Miller is not yet charged. A court date is scheduled for June 1 in Camden County.