Wiscasset Middle High School students hold a sign in support of principal Gina Stevens during a School Committee meeting Tuesday. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

Supporters of a Wiscasset principal placed on leave over the improper installation of a hidden camera in a space where students changed clothes want her reinstated and spoke out to the School Committee Tuesday night.

Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Gina Stevens was also accused of removing a student from school against policy, mistreating students and staff, and failing to communicate with Superintendent Kim Andersson, who on Monday recommended the School Committee fire her. Andersson made that suggestion during an unusual and contentious public meeting — requested by Stevens — which drew about 150 people, the vast majority in support of the principal. No public comment was allowed at the meeting per committee policy, though several people interrupted proceedings, shouting in support of Stevens and criticizing the committee.

Stevens has said she had the camera installed in hopes of stemming continued thefts from the school’s food pantry.

A larger crowd of about 200 people, including about 50 students, attended the committee’s regular meeting Tuesday night and about a half-dozen of Stevens’ supporters spoke out during the public comment portion.

“We all support Gina Stevens,” parent John Maclaren said.

Stevens has denied any wrongdoing. She attended the meeting Tuesday but declined to comment, other than calling it a “great meeting.”


Resident Chet Grover said the accusations against Stevens don’t warrant her firing and have caused a major distraction for the school system.

“We’re seven weeks into school,” Grover said. “This probably could have been avoided.”

The School Department’s administrative team has been sharing principal duties at the middle/high school, which has 271 students, since Stevens was placed on leave.

Stevens was named principal in March. She was placed on paid leave last week and, in an unusual request, asked that the charges against her and her dismissal hearing be made public. Normally, that sort of personnel conversation would happen behind closed doors in executive session.

“I have only done my job appropriately and in line with expected leadership responsibilities,” Stevens said in a statement last week. “I pride myself on honesty, fairness and integrity, and I wish for this matter to be discussed in an open public forum.”

The School Committee is expected to hold the dismissal hearing next month. It will resemble a trial, with the School Department and its legal counsel, Drummond Woodsum, and Stevens and her lawyer, Gregg Frame, given chances to present evidence and call witnesses. The committee will then vote on whether to fire Stevens.


Some in the crowd Tuesday said it appeared committee members had already made up their minds to fire Stevens. Committee Chairperson Jason Putnam said that’s not the case.

“The School Committee is trying to do everything completely legally and be sure we’re fair to everybody,” he said after the meeting. “I have an open mind.”

According to Andersson, on Oct. 3, Stevens first informed her of the hidden camera when she told the superintendent students had changed their clothes in the closet where it was installed, against the principal’s directive to staff. Stevens said in her statement last week the camera was installed after the school’s food pantry, housed in the same closet, kept getting broken into. Frame claimed Andersson knew about the camera beforehand and said Stevens emailed her about it on Aug. 30.

Andersson said the students used the closet to change instead of a bathroom because Stevens accused them of vaping in a bathroom without any evidence. Andersson said Stevens’ vaping accusations caused one of the students to cry, which was one of the reasons she cited in her dismissal recommendation. Andersson also accused Stevens of causing a teacher to cry over the removal of the camera.

Freshman Alana Gray said she and most of her high school classmates want Stevens reinstated.

“Yes, she’s not perfect,” Gray told the committee. “She’s also human, so she can make mistakes, too. Everyone does.


“Ms. Stevens has done everything she can do to make the school feel like a home. There’s no one who could do it better.”

A group of 25 middle/high school staff members last week wrote a public letter in support of Stevens. The school has 63 total staff members.

No one spoke in favor of firing Stevens in front of the committee Tuesday, though Putnam said that doesn’t mean there aren’t people who agree with removing her.

“The people who are more supportive (of Stevens) are more vocal,” he said. “There’s a certain group of people who are more restrained and more old-fashioned about how they comport themselves in public.”

Putnam said the situation is the most contentious he has experienced in his eight years on the committee, with more vitriol than the school mask mandates during the coronavirus pandemic. He cited “conspiracy theories” circulating on social media that have fueled criticism of the committee and Andersson.

“People are saying nasty stuff that isn’t true,” he said. “And they’re making assumptions.


“The people that are being dumped on are all trying very hard for the school to succeed.”

He told the crowd during the meeting, “Everything has been followed correctly. Nobody sitting at these tables did anything but have to react to something someone else did. Actions have consequences and words have consequences.”

Parent Lauren Richardson said she’s not proud of some of the community’s behavior.

“We’re tearing each other down and we’re tearing these people down who have taken their time to try to help us,” she told the committee. “Let’s look out for each other and let’s build for the future.”

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