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May 11, 2013

Angry parents charged with misdemeanors

TRAVERSE CITY — Prosecutors charged two students’ parents with crimes for allegedly causing a heated confrontation at Long Lake Elementary School.

Michael Miller, 34, and Amber Sargent, 29, are accused of disturbing the peace. They acknowledged becoming angry and cursing at school staffers as they picked up their daughters from the Traverse City Area Public Schools building on April 24, but they contended their confrontational behavior stemmed from legitimate grievances with the school’s administrators.

“We have a right as parents to get upset,” Sargent said.

TCAPS officials last month said at least one parent became “very agitated,” used profanity and acted in a threatening manner toward school employees after student dismissal, prompting the staffers to place the building in “secure mode,” a security measure similar to a lockdown which prevents unapproved access to the school’s interior from the outside.

A Grand Traverse County sheriff’s department report stated the confrontation began in the school’s lobby when Miller and Sargent received “a note about one of their children’s bad behavior in school.”

Witnesses said Sargent ripped up the note and began yelling and cursing at school officials in front of children and parents. Miller also began loudly cursing as he and Sargent headed for the parking lot.

School officials later told deputies what transpired and said Sargent and Miller “come to the school on many occasions and cause a scene,” according to the report.

But Sargent and Miller said their daughters, ages 6 and 9, have endured academic, social and behavioral problems since moving from Traverse City’s Central Grade School to Long Lake this year.

In the last 6 months the girls’ grades have dropped, the older girl has been bullied by classmates and both daughters have been placed in special resource room programs, Miller said.

”My kids were doing wonderful at Central Grade School,” Miller said. “I think I should have a right to get a little bit loud and a little bit upset.”

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