got rent?

Did Corona Del Mar High Just Shiv Rent‘s Drama Teacher?


As Queerty first told you about in February, the principal of Orange County’s Corona Del Mar High School originally refused to let students stage a production of Rent because it was too gay. It led to a faceoff between anti-gay Principal Fal Asrani and drama teacher Ron Martin. In the end, Martin’s side won: Students got to have their show. Then Asrani was removed (sorry, she “resigned”). And now, uh, Martin has been booted by the school?

This drama just keeps on going!

falasraniAsrani was replaced by Tim Bryan at Corona Del Mar following the controversy, but she had no problem finding a new job: she’s now “administrator for program improvement at the Antioch Unified School District in the Bay Area, just two months after she reportedly accepted a contract to work as assistant superintendent of a group of struggling schools in Los Angeles,” relays Daily Pilot.

But what about back in Orange County? What happened to drama teacher Martin? He’s been placed on administrative leave. School officials won’t elaborate, saying Martin’s removal is related to a “personnel matter.” But it sounds like retribution for Asrani’s ousting, according to Martin.

He posted on Facebook: “Today I was placed on administrative leave because it is alleged that I stated that I got a certain person fired. It is interesting that the week after we form the first GSA [Gay-Straight Alliance] on the campus I am put on leave. It is also interesting that the district kept using the word alleged, referring to the former principal’s statement about not canceling Rent, and she was never placed on leave. Don’t let ignorance prevail.”

Nevermind that it’s weird for teachers to post on Facebook for all their students to see, but he’s got the whole old “Save Rent” page behind him. It’s being led by Karyl Ketchum, the mother of student Hail Ketchum, “who played an HIV-infected exotic dancer in the final, administration-approved version of Rent. Hail Ketchum was threatened with rape and murder in an invective-laced online video by a group of Corona del Mar student athletes. None of the athletes was expelled for making the video, which was filled with anti-gay and misogynistic slurs and posted on Facebook, despite the district’s zero-tolerance policy on bullying.” (Watch the video here. It’s terrible.)

Karyl posted to the Facebook page Tuesday:

RON MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF “RENT” NEEDS OUR HELP!!! Ron Martin, the director who fought so hard to put on Corona del Mar High School’s award-winning production of “Rent,” is now being retaliated against by the Newport-Mesa Unifi…ed School DIstrict and received notice today (Oct 20, 2009) that he can no longer go on campus or speak with students. The timing on this is significant for two reasons. First, this week was to be the first official meeting of the school’s brand new Gay Straight Alliance (GSA)–a social and support group for kids who are gay/questioning or kids that care about protecting and supporting friends who are gay. Mr. Martin is the group’s faculty advisor and, without him, it will not be able to meet.

Second, now that the ACLU lawsuit has been settled, Mr. Martin is vulnerable to the school’s retaliation for putting on “Rent” and for his efforts on behalf of the gay students and women students at the school. Ron Ma…rtin has been creating a safe and creative place for students for years in a school that is famously and dangerously homophobic and misogynistic. We need to flood the school and district phone lines and email with complaints and DEMAND THAT RON MARTIN BE RESTORED TO HIS POSITION AS CORONA DEL MAR HIGH THEATRE DIRECTOR AND GSA ADVISOR IMMEDIATELY. Newport-Mesa Superintendent Jeffrey Hubbard can be reached here, or 714-424-5033. Corona del Mar High Principal Tim Bryant can be reached here, 714-424-5000.

That message was met with this one, from (new?) Drama Club President Heather Shields:

There have obviously been a lot of rumors flying around about what’s going on with Elephant Man, Mr. Martin, and the drama department here at CdM. While we appreciate your concern, we want to emphasize the importance of staying calm, not spreadi…ng or listening to rumors, and being discrete. Whatever links have been sent, pages, blogs, groups, petitions, etc., please disregard them. Kaylyn Nese, Carlie Rinehart, and I have everything under control and do not need what’s going on to blow out of proportion. This is a new year, we have marvelous shows in line, we’re off to a great start, and we don’t need more problems or discontent.

Thankfully, we have administrative support and are working with them to resolve this issue. We shall let you know if anything comes up, and if we need your help, we’ll alert you.

Thank you again for all of your support. We… appreciate your concern and understanding. Again, please be discrete, silence rumors, and wait until we sort things out, before taking any action. Thank you again!

Heather Shields
Drama Club President

We don’t yet have all the facts here, and only administrators know why Martin was placed on administrative leave. But something is definitely curious. And there are all the indicators that his “leave” is a direct result of those sympathetic to Asrani forcing him out.