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Dean Kelly

Dean Kelly, principal of Natrona County High School, resigned Wednesday. 

Natrona County High School Principal Dean Kelly has resigned in the wake of an investigation that resulted in several staff members being disciplined for violating school district policy.

He said Wednesday that he plans to take on another role in the district.

Though Kelly said he had no part in planning the inappropriate staff skit that sparked the investigation last month, he said he accepted responsibility for the event and resigned so the school community could move on.

During the skit, two male Natrona County High School staff members initiated new teachers at a welcome back event for school staff Aug. 25. Kelly said that he did not approve the skit before the event and that he was in the audience when it was performed.

“Hindsight’s 20-20, and so maybe it should’ve (been cleared),” Kelly told the Star-Tribune on Wednesday. “However, the people who put the skit on have done this successfully without incident in the past, you know, so I trusted it.”

In the skit, the two Natrona County High School staffers wore cheerleader uniforms and hazed new staff members using physical contact and sexually suggestive words and actions.

They referenced masturbation, homosexuality, nipples and virginity while “initiating” the new teachers during the skit.

At the time, the district received complaints that the skit violated anti-harassment policies.

Kelly said some moments in the skit were “over the line.” In his resignation letter, he called the skit an “unfortunate incident” that occurred on his watch at the school and said it had compromised trust and embarrassed the district. 

“We need to put this to rest and begin to heal from it,” Kelly said. “I just didn’t know if it was ever going to get put to rest if I remained the principal."

In a statement Wednesday, the district said that Kelly’s resignation is effective Oct. 1 and that his new role has not yet been determined.

Natrona County School District Superintendent Steve Hopkins said Kelly will help with the administrative transition for the next two weeks before moving into another certified position somewhere in the district.

"During that period of time, we'll identify his (new) duties," Hopkins said. "We’ll look to match his credentials with his skill set to the needs of the district."

A successor has not yet been appointed, he said.

"We'll put good and serious thought into it," Hopkins said. "We'll work with the staff."

Kelly Hornby, the district’s executive director for curriculum instruction, has been acting principal at the high school since around the time the personnel investigation began.

The district's board of trustees will review the district's personnel policies and associated training policies, said Dave Applegate, chairman of the board.

It's too early to say exactly how policy might change as a result, he said, but lessons from the incident will be used in future personnel training.

"We'll try to capture lessons learned and share that with teachers," Applegate said.

No employees were fired as a result of the inappropriate skit, but disciplinary action was taken, the district said in a release earlier this week.

The release did not identify any administrators or employees involved, and a redacted video of the skit shows only blurred faces and does not include any employee names.

A public records request for a copy of the investigation’s final report is pending at the Natrona County School District.

Kelly has worked for the Natrona County School District since 1997, when he taught math at Natrona County High School. He was an assistant principal at the school, then athletic director for the district before becoming principal at the high school, which is Casper’s largest.

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Reach education reporter Leah Todd at 307-266-0592 or leah.todd@trib.com. Follow her on Twitter @leahktodd.

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