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.”
Aside from the girls saying there wasn’t anything to it – what if there was? Who the hell are the school officials to report this to parents? This is a punishable offense? I’m thinking back to the girl I made out with in the bathroom in drama club in high school… holy crap.
That’s the problem with surveillance culture – there’s so much that can be misinterpreted from a video.