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April 26, 2007

Dean Reports Kissing Girls to Parents

The Dean of Students at Gig Harbor High School reported the "strange" behavior of a student to her parents, prompting them to transfer her to another school. What type of behavior was the girl exhiting? She was kissing another female student.

GIG HARBOR, Wash. -- Restrictions on the use of school security videotape have been tightened after images of two high school students kissing were shown to the parents of one of the girls, officials say.

Keith Nelson, dean of students at Gig Harbor High School, said he saw the students kissing and holding hands in the school's busy commons, checked a surveillance camera and showed the parents the tape because they had asked him a few weeks earlier to alert them to any conduct by their daughter that was out of the ordinary.

They then transferred their daughter to a school outside the Peninsula School District, which lies northwest of Tacoma.

Both girls said their privacy was invaded and denied doing anything wrong. Neither was identified by name in an article published Thursday by The News Tribune of Tacoma.

The kiss amounted to a quick "peck," said the girl who remains at the school, a 17-year-old senior described as the daughter of a News Tribune employee.

"We weren't doing anything inappropriate, nothing anyone else wouldn't do," she said.

Nelson said students could not have any expectation of privacy in a crowded place and maintained that he would have taken the same action had the students kissing been a boy and a girl.

An internal investigation into a complaint from a student -- it was unclear whether the complaint came from one of the girls -- established that Nelson had not violated district policy, Assistant School Superintendent Shannon Wiggs said.

Even so, Principal Greg Schellenberg said, school surveillance videotape may now be used only for security monitoring and discipline for actions such as trespassing, vandalism and fighting.

Kissing and other public displays of affection were at the time and remain violations of school rules, but violators will first be given warnings and will be disciplined only for a second offense, Schellenberg said. In addition, school employees are barred from sharing surveillance video in response to an open-ended parental request.

"It's not our normal practice," Schellenberg said. "It's not going to happen again."

In the case of the kiss, he added, "the same information could have been portrayed to the family without the video."

Nelson said he respected the change in policy but added that he believes his first obligation is to parents.

"They're paying good money for us to make their kids good citizens," he said. "Whatever that means to the parents, I'll do it."

--Kiro TV (Associated Press)

The father of the transferred student spoke on local radio earlier today, stating that they had found, "evidence of homosexual activity, which we believe to be an abomination." He went on to say that his daughter had been "transferred to a school that deals with this sort of thing."

I am totally disgusted with the Dean, the school, and the father of this girl, video or no video. Is it their policy to report heterosexual hand-holding and kissing to parents? I highly doubt it.

And way to go dad - I've been the "abomination" route and it sucks. Parental disappointment can be an incredible burden, and trying to find yourself while someone condemns you to hell for falling for the "wrong" sex doesn't help.

Posted by Ensie at April 26, 2007 09:26 PM

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This is sick. Way to go to the Dean, to whom money obiviously matters more than ethics. If parents think their kids should get a certain grade, would he pursue that as well, because "they're paying good money"?

Posted by: MAG at April 27, 2007 10:21 AM

Crazy Dean, Crazy Father. Feel sorry for the daughter looks like she is in for a rough decade ahead.

BTW love the speed of light book analogy!

Posted by: brettbum at April 28, 2007 02:39 AM

I am more sickened with the father, he initiated the crazy attitude of the 'snooper'
That girl.... I feel for her and her friend.

Posted by: ~Dawn at April 29, 2007 06:28 PM

Happy to hear the Dean has lost his position.
Granted, he didn't lose his JOB (was transferred to a position with less direct contact with students), but at least it is a gesture by the school board that his actions were wrong. And "bravo" to the students for their demonstration of support for thier classmates.

Posted by: Cascadia Girl at May 2, 2007 06:10 PM

I was so happy to see the students standing up for their students - not even just about the cameras, but for lesbian and/or gay students!

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