Students, Parents Oppose Firing Of Virginia City Drama Teacher

Many students and parents are rallying behind a popular high school drama teacher who is appealing his dismissal over allegations that he touched a male student.

William Beeson was fired earlier this year at Virginia City High School after a security camera captured him touching the student on campus, Storey County schools Superintendent Robert Slaby said.

The school board was to consider his appeal Thursday, but postponed a hearing until Nov. 13 at the request of Beeson's lawyer.

Many students and parents criticized Beeson's firing, asking the board at a Sept. 20 meeting to reconsider.

A total of 113 of the school's 152 students signed a petition seeking Beeson's reinstatement.

"He loves his students," student Molly McGregor said. "He's so dedicated. We really miss him."

But Virginia City High Principal Patrick Beckwith told officials that Beeson's reinstatement seems "pretty unlikely."

The case was investigated by Lyon County District Attorney Harold Swafford, who decided not to file any criminal charges.

In a letter to the school district, Swafford wrote that "being unprofessional does not elevate Mr. Beeson's conduct to `criminal behavior."'

In the videotape, a 14-year-old student was seen "jumping into Mr. Beeson's lap, climbing onto (his) back and poking Mr. Beeson with a long wooden pole" while other students rehearsed a play in the school's common area, according to Swafford's letter.

The student told officials he went to the common area to watch the rehearsal of "Rip Van Winkle" and ask Beeson for a ride home, Slaby said.