A Gig Harbor High School administrator whose use of video footage of two girls kissing prompted the school to tighten its rules on surveillance cameras will no longer be dean of students.
Keith Nelson has been reassigned to work with the Peninsula School District’s career and technical education program, assistant superintendent Shannon Wiggs said Tuesday. His pay will not change, she said.
Nelson – a certified teacher who served as dean of students for two years – will work with special-education students, she said. He will start his new job by the end of this week and will continue at least until the end of the school year.
“It wasn’t a disciplinary action,” Wiggs said. “It was just an involuntary reassignment that every employer has the right to make.”
Last week The News Tribune detailed a February incident in which cameras taped two girls kissing and holding hands, and how Nelson shared the recording with the parents of one of the girls.
A student complained, and the district asked its private attorney to investigate. The attorney concluded Nelson didn’t violate school policies, but district officials have said it was a misjudgment for him to share the video, and that such sharing is now prohibited. Neither Wiggs nor Superintendent Terry Bouck would say Tuesday whether Nelson’s reassignment was related to the video incident.
On Monday, between 30 and 50 students skipped class and protested against Nelson outside the school. Nelson was told of his new job the same day.
In an e-mail to the newspaper, Nelson reiterated that he was originally contacted by the parents of one of the girls; they asked him to tell them if their daughter exhibited out-of-the-ordinary behavior. Nelson said that by chance he later saw the girls kissing in a crowded commons area. He then found it on the video and invited the girl’s parents to watch it. They have since transferred their daughter out of the district.
Nelson said students are wrong to call what he did discrimination against lesbians.
“The real story is this – do parents have the right to know what happens at school? And do parents have the right to know what type of activities their child is involved in at school? Of course they do,” he wrote in the e-mail.
Bouck said he hadn’t decided if he’ll name an interim dean.
Brent Champaco: 253-597-8653