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Dunedin Pipe Band director who was terminated over derogatory comments is reinstated

DUNEDIN — Sandy Keith is back as the director of the City of Dunedin Pipe Band.

The city reinstated Keith on Thursday, a little less than a month after it had terminated its contract with the native of Scotland after witnesses said he cursed and made derogatory comments about children scheduled to dance at the March 28 Dunedin Military Tattoo.

After lengthy discussion with Keith about the future of Scottish heritage, music in Dunedin and the March 28 incident, city officials agreed to renew Keith's contract.

"Part of his legacy will be a strong program, still growing and improving into the future," City Manager Rob DiSpirito said. "I really came to understand that we can best do that with his help."

The reinstatement comes with a long list of conditions.

Keith has already satisfied one point: he wrote a letter of apology to the dance instructor and the father of a dancer for an outburst at the Dunedin Military Tattoo on March 28.

Keith also has agreed to:

• Consider his comments and how they affect others.

• Help develop a plan for future leadership of the pipe band.

• Work with a committee to find an eventual replacement.

• Mentor the replacement as his apprentice for at least a year.

When reached Thursday, Keith said he had agreed to come back as director. He was hurrying to leave town for a Highland games event in Georgia and said whatever the city wrote as the required conditions in a memorandum is correct, though he had yet to read it.

DiSpirito and Commissioner Julie Ward Bujalski worked to resolve the situation.

The city is also encouraging Dunedin Highland Middle and Dunedin High schools to keep Keith as director of their pipe bands next year and beyond.

"We wanted to look at the big picture of our Scottish heritage and Scottish events," Bujalski said. "Sandy has been with the city for 28 years and really has so much knowledge and has given so much to the community."

She's happy with the outcome and with how the city manager handled the issue.

"I'm very pleased with Rob's ability to continue to find good compromises in everything he does," she said.

Theresa Blackwell can be reached at tblackwell@sptimes.com or (727) 445-4170.

Dunedin Pipe Band director who was terminated over derogatory comments is reinstated 05/07/09 [Last modified: Thursday, May 7, 2009 8:15pm]
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