A teacher who recounted how a senior aide to President Trump ate glue as a third-grader has been pulled from her classroom.
The Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District has placed veteran teacher Nikki Fiske on “home assignment” while it decides what to do, if anything, about disclosures she made about a young Stephen Miller.
Miller, 33, has grown up to be a senior advisor to Trump. But his prospects did not appear so promising to Fiske when Miller was a student in her classroom at Franklin Elementary School.
“Do you remember that character in ‘Peanuts,’ the one called Pig-Pen, with the dust cloud and crumbs flying all around him? That was Stephen Miller at 8,” Fiske recounted in an article posted Wednesday by the Hollywood Reporter. “I was always trying to get him to clean up his desk — he always had stuff mashed up in there.”
And there was a problem with glue.
“He would pour the glue on his arm, let it dry, peel it off and then eat it,” she said. “He was a strange dude.”
The school district’s concern is “about her release of student information, including allegations that the release may not have complied with applicable laws and district policies,” district spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said.
“This has been picked up by other digital publications and blogs, and some issues have been raised,” Pinsker said.
The brief article is in the first-person voice of Fiske “as told to Benjamin Svetkey,” who is a senior editor at the publication.
Fiske’s disclosures have prompted angry responses.
“The real takeaway from this story is that Fiske sounds like a real piece of trash,” wrote Becket Adams in the Washington Examiner. “What kind of teacher goes to an entertainment newspaper with gossip about an 8-year-old boy? Hell, forget that she’s a teacher. What kind of human being does that?”
The school district was deluged with calls, emails and comments.
“I will tell you that we are seeing more in support of her and the 1st Amendment than negative,” Pinsker said. Current and former parents of students in her classroom “are overwhelmingly in support of her.”
Fiske, 72, is a registered Democrat who, based on her Facebook account, supports causes associated with liberals and progressives, such as gun control and halting the killing of dogs for meat in China. According to her profile, she grew up in New York City and studied at City College of New York, and Rutgers and Loyola Marymount universities.
She could not be reached for comment.
This isn’t the first time left-leaning Southern California has bashed Miller and other native sons who work with Trump. Last year, a gift-wrapped box of poop caused a security scare at the Bel-Air home of U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin, who also was heckled at UCLA. Miller, who grew up with relatives who do not share his political views, has been denounced by both his uncle and childhood rabbi.
His uncle, David S. Glosser, wrote in August that their own family would have been wiped out if the restrictive immigration policies Miller favors had been in force early in the last century. Rabbi Neil Comess-Daniels criticized Miller in September for his reported role in developing the Trump administration policy that separated immigrant parents from their children at the U.S. border.
But no one had reached back as far as Fiske to suggest that Miller’s odd behavior as a child may connect to his adult self.
Outrageous, concluded PJ Grisar in the Forward.
“This is nothing short of character assassination — and of a child no less!” Grisar wrote. “Pig-Pen deserves better.”
Times researcher Cary A. Schneider contributed to this report.
5:45 p.m.: This article was updated to include additional information about Fiske, more reaction to her disclosures and background on past local criticism of senior Trump aides.
This article was originally published at 10:55 p.m. on Oct. 11.