DEER LODGE - A Powell County school superintendent has stopped his effort to fire a longtime physical education teacher, the latest development in the controversy over videotapes of girls changing clothes in locker rooms.
On Thursday, a termination hearing scheduled next week for Arlita Fenner was canceled. She has taught at Powell County High School for more than 30 years.
A memo announcing Superintendent Joe Brott's decision was taped on school doors and around Deer Lodge.
The memo said Fenner had accepted a letter of reprimand and may petition to have the letter removed from her personnel file in six months.
Kathy Mullins, president of the Powell County High School Teachers' Association, said she could not discuss the letter's contents but called it a "very minor thing."
"It totally turned away from the whole connection with taping," Mullins said Thursday. "They had to settle for something much less, because there was no truth in what they had been claiming. It was a way of saving face."
In a short written statement Friday, Brott took issue with Mullins' statements.
"The district is saddened that Kathy Mullins chose to make misleading statements about this case," Brott said.
He added that Fenner had been recommended for termination for "making untruthful statements during the course of an investigation." He said the parties later agreed on a reprimand.
Brott placed Fenner on paid administrative leave last month. Brott said Fenner's statements about the taping were vague and inconsistent, and he also claimed that she knew about security problems in the locker room but didn't tell anyone.
Fenner said she told Brott of her suspicions before police began investigating the taping last year.
Three male students admitted they filmed girls changing before and after volleyball games, using cameras set up behind mirrors and inside walls and lockers. Authorities have said girls from at least six schools are involved.
In April, dozens of Fenner's supporters showed up at a school board meeting to protest her suspension. Students also demonstrated by chanting outside the school, marching through the business district and holding car rallies at Fenner's house.