Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Gina Stevens (at right) listens as her attorney, Gregg Frame, speaks during her dismissal hearing Wednesday night. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

Wiscasset school officials said Wednesday night they were horrified over the discovery of a hidden camera at the middle/high school that led the superintendent to call for the principal’s firing.

“I was flabbergasted,” Superintendent Kim Andersson testified in an unusual public hearing in front of a crowd of about 150 at Wiscasset Elementary School. “A hidden camera in any closet, especially in a special education room where we have our most vulnerable students, is a big deal.

“We do not put cameras into learning spaces, and we certainly never put a hidden camera into any place in a public setting.”

Wiscasset Middle High School Principal Gina Stevens said she ordered the installation of the camera after repeated break-ins at the pantry, located in a closet in a special education classroom. Andersson said Stevens didn’t inform her of the camera until after two girls used the pantry to try on prom dresses.

Stevens, in a rare move, requested Wednesday’s hearing be made public. Such personnel matters are usually discussed in closed-door executive sessions. The hearing resembled a trial. The School Committee heard testimony from Andersson and several school staffers who served as witnesses and presented sworn testimony. Attorneys with Portland-based Drummond Woodsum, representing the school department, and Stevens’ attorney, Gregg Frame, of Portland-based Taylor, McCormack & Frame, presented evidence and questioned the witnesses.

Andrea Lovell, Wiscasset schools’ special education director, testifies in front of the School Committee Wednesday. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

The hearing stretched for six hours and was continued until 4 p.m. Thursday. The School Committee is expected to vote on whether to fire Stevens at the conclusion of the hearing.


Frame said Stevens submitted an IT request through Google Forms asking for the camera’s installation.

“She understood the person in charge of IT, your superintendent, would be monitoring that,” Frame said.

Andersson said the school department’s technology team, and not her, received the request.

“Had I seen that, we would not all be sitting here today,” the superintendent said.

Frame said the issue seemed “at worst, something that could have been handled through a meeting with the superintendent and Ms. Stevens.”

“Gina didn’t do anything wrong,” he said. “Even if she did, where was the progressive discipline?”


Andersson said the issue “catapulted way beyond progressive discipline” because Stevens lied that a special education teacher had requested the camera be installed. The teacher, Lindsay Larrabee, denied doing so.

Melinda Turner, a Wiscasset Middle High School ed tech, draws a diagram showing the school’s food pantry. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

Melinda Turner, an ed tech who runs the food pantry, said she discovered the camera hidden near dryer sheets Oct. 3 and immediately notified Larrabee, her supervisor.

“I said, ‘We have a problem. There’s a camera there,’ ” Turner said. “I didn’t know who was watching.”

Larrabee said the day before, she had allowed students to use the pantry to try on the dresses.

“I thought it was a private place,” she said, adding she unplugged the camera.

Andersson said the situation showed Stevens is not fit for her job.


“You cannot have a building leader that you cannot trust implicitly because the work we do is way too important,” she said. “The building principal is supposed to be a leader and model for not only staff but also students, and so it was more than the dishonesty and the poor judgement. Now we’re also talking about accountability and blaming others for our own actions. These are not the traits of a leader.”

Andersson said the camera recorded footage from Sept. 30 when it went online until Larrabee unplugged it. She said she couldn’t tell for certain if it recorded the students changing clothes.

“It’s a liability to have this footage,” she said. “It lives in a drive only I can access. We can’t destroy it because it’s potentially evidence in a child pornography thing. So I have to keep it. I can’t look at it to see what’s actually on there because if I look at it I’m guilty of looking at child porn, maybe. I don’t even know 100%. A lot of risk there. A lot of risk.”

Wiscasset schools Superintendent Kim Andersson (left) testifies during Gina Stevens’ dismissal hearing Wednesday night. Jason Claffey / The Times Record

Andersson cited several more reasons for Stevens’ termination, including falsely accusing the students who changed clothes in the pantry of vaping in a bathroom, which she said is the reason they asked to use the pantry to change. The superintendent said Stevens mistreated Larrabee by yelling at her for unplugging the camera and failed to communicate a special education teacher vacancy with her. Andersson said Stevens also exposed the school department to more legal liability when she removed a student from the school in March without a School Committee hearing, against school district policy.

Frame said the student represented a “significant safety risk … at a time when school safety is or should be paramount” and that Stevens consulted with staff and the student’s parents before removing the student.

He characterized the superintendent’s charges as opinions and said there isn’t sufficient cause to terminate Stevens.

“The superintendent is attempting to terminate Gina Stevens because some people have expressed concern over her tact,” he said. “You can believe Gina isn’t perfect and also believe she doesn’t deserve to be terminated. It’s not one or the other.”

Frame said Stevens will testify and he will call more witnesses in the case Thursday.

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