News

Board member: Anonymous e-mail a 'set-up'

By MIKE HALLIDAY

The Mirror

An anonymous e-mail accusing Federal Way School Board member Bob Millen of moving out of his area district was sent, apparently from all available evidence, from a business Web site belonging to the husband of fellow board member Evelyn Castellar.

The e-mail was delivered to The Mirror, other news organizations and board members, and several other people on July 22 with the subject line, “Bob Millen Carpetbagging and Lying to District.”

Millen denied the allegation he moved out of his area district. He said he has purchased a home within that area.

At The Mirror’s request, an information technology specialist from the newspaper’s parent company, Sound Publishing, tracked the origin of the e-mail in just a few minutes. While the message didn’t show who sent it, a listing of the route it took revealed the communication originated from hondurasestate.com, a real estate company listing Jose Castellar as one of the contacts and a Federal Way address. The address is the same as Evelyn Castellar’s business, Intellipass. Jose Castellar is her husband.

After the School Board meeting Tuesday night, Castellar denied writing or sending the e-mail and said her husband also didn’t write it. She didn’t know who wrote or sent the message, she said, but she agreed the message appeared to originate from the Web site of her husband’s company. However, she said she didn’t know how that happened and said the message was planted.

On Thursday, Castellar said several of her e-mail accounts, including her school district account, had been broken into and used improperly.

“Who do you think will look bad in all of this? Me. It’s a set-up,” she said.

Ken Cole, the school district’s director of information technology operations, said Castellar had contacted the district and his staff instructed her how to change her e-mail account’s password.

It doesn’t appear the anonymous message about Millen came from a school district e-mail account.

Castellar said she’s been outspoken about Millen’s apparent move out of his area district since receiving the anonymous e-mail.

“I think what Bob’s doing is wrong,” she said Tuesday night. “I’m not afraid to say that.”

She understood that Millen had purchased a home in her area district near Decatur High School.

On Wednesday, Millen provided a copy of the statutory warranty deed of his new house, which is near Enterprise Elementary School and within his area district. A search of King County’s public records also located a real estate excise tax affidavit showing the sale.

A different, incorrect account is given by the anonymous e-mail, which was received by school district superintendent Tom Murphy, state Reps. Skip Priest and Mark Miloscia, and a paralegal at the Washington State School Directors’ Association, among others.

“Federal Way School Board Director Bob Millen has not lived in his district for months. He sold his home earlier this year and has purchased a home in another district,” the e-mail states. Millen represents District 5.

The e-mail continues, “Carpet begging (sic) is ugly but Millen takes it to a new level. Lie until the deadline (for candidate filing) is over. Millen needs to come clean. We in district 5 need to be allowed to vote for a person who actually lives in our district. This is according to state law. District Administrators and Board Members, stop protecting Millens (sic) lies. You become guilty by association to his deceitfulness when doing this. This information is easily verified.”

The e-mail closes with, “Sign me, District 5 voter.”

Public records from King County confirm the sale of Millen’s old house in early April. Millen said the sale occurred much faster than he and his wife anticipated. He has been temporarily living with his brother-in-law while his new house is vacated by the previous owners.

His brother-in-law lives in District 5, and Millen said he spends four nights of the week there upon the advice of the district’s legal counsel. His wife is living with her mother in another part of the school district.

Millen’s term in office ends in 2007.

For a time, Millen reserved a lot in a housing development near Decatur High –– in Castellar’s district –– in case he couldn’t find a house in his own district, he said. Castellar was aware of that situation, he told The Mirror. But when the home in his area district became available, he and his wife purchased that home.

Federal Wayy Public Schools’ policies state board members can move from their area district and remain on the board if they serve more than two years of their term.

According to Dan Steele with the Washington State School Directors Association, the first two years of a board member’s term is served following the last day of filing for board elections. That was Friday for this year.

Two citizens at the School Board’s meeting Tuesday raised the question of Millen’s residency without naming him. Millen didn’t respond to the e-mail or the citizens’ comments during the meeting.

The Castellars own property in Honduras and spend about four months of the year there. She runs a medical clinic in the community and teaches at a school. On her latest trip, she had been sending e-mail journals to various people, including The Mirror. She used her Microsoft Hotmail account when she sent those communications.

A board member since 2003, Castellar has been criticized by other board members and citizens for her absences while in Honduras and some of her comments and positions on education. She and Millen have had a tense relationship and often disagree on issues during meetings.

In late 2004, the board bickered publicly for months over several topics, including a statewide charter school referendum and a policy she proposed to rotate the officers of the board based on seniority instead of voting. Millen and former board member Earl VanDorien Jr. didn’t favor the proposal because it meant Charles Hoff would be the next president. Millen and VanDorien were opposed to Hoff leading the board, stating he routinely criticized students and teachers. Casteller favored Hoff.

Hoff eventually became board president on a 3-2 vote, with Millen on the nay side and Castellar one of three ayes.

Castellar holds the board’s two other officer positions –– vice president and legislative liaison. Her term ends in 2007.

Staff writer Mike Halliday: 925-5565, mhalliday@fedwaymirror.com

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