Nathan Wienk’s plea bargain leaves his employer in an odd place.
Fulton school district officials must decide whether to return Wienk to his old job, punish him, or attempt to fire him.Ã‚Â Wienk was accused of using his cellphone camera to take surreptitious photos of two female colleagues.Ã‚Â Police allege Wienk slid his camera under a conference table to shoot one photo and stuck it amongst some papers to shoot another.
Police searched his cellphone and computer but found no other photos.Ã‚Â He told police that in one case, he was trying to document a colleague who was working on other things in her lap while she was at a meeting.
Monday, Wienk pleaded guilty to harassment.Ã‚Â He had been charged with a more serious offense, attempted unlawful surveillance.Ã‚Â The judge ordered him to perform 150 hours of community service. The case will be removed from Wienk’s record if he stays out of trouble for six months.
The charge of harassment to which he admitted is a violation under New York State law, similar to some traffic charges.Ã‚Â The original charge was a misdemeanor.
Because Wienk neither admitted guilt to the original charge nor was found not guilty of all charges, the outcome of the court case puts the onus on the school district’s internal investigation to decide Wienk’s future.
“It’s certainly a cause for concern,” Superintendent of Schools Bill Lynch said of Monday’s plea.Ã‚Â “But I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”
He said the district was waiting for the outcome of the criminal case before starting its own investigation because “we weren’t getting a full picture of everything” with the trial pending.Ã‚Â Lynch said it will likely take a couple of weeks for district officials to complete an investigation.
Wienk will remain on the job for the school district, but in a job that keeps him away from students and most staff members.Ã‚Â Lynch said Wienk is helping with analyzing data on student performance.
Wienk has spent more than 10 years with the district, first as an art teacher at Fulton Junior High where he was well-regarded, and, at the time of his arrest in May, as a teacher on special assignment in the district, helping with administrative projects.