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Controversial teacher leaving John Burroughs

July 09, 2008|By Angela Hokanson

BURBANK — The John Burroughs High School teacher whose production of “Romeo and Juliet,” ignited criticism as well as support from the local community this spring is leaving the Burbank Unified School District and will be teaching at a charter high school in Van Nuys come fall.

Scott Bailey, who had taught drama and English at Burroughs High for nine years, submitted his resignation at the end of June. He has taken a post at Charter High School of the Arts – Multimedia and Performing, which is also known as CHAMPS, where he’ll be teaching English and will also be involved in the theater program, he said.

The new position was appealing, Bailey said, in part because the charter school’s principal seems to embrace the arts. Bailey’s working relationship with Burroughs Principal Emilio Urioste has been strained for some time now, in part over artistic choices like what kind of theater was appropriate for teens, he said.

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“It was just time for me to go,” he said.

The new position also includes a 5% raise, he said.

In April, Urioste informed Bailey that he would be teaching only English — not drama as well, as he had been doing — at the school any longer, Bailey said.

In response, the Burbank Teachers Assn. filed a grievance against Urioste on Bailey’s behalf saying that the reassignment had been capricious.

Urioste could not be reached for comment.

The decision to switch Bailey’s teaching assignment falls under the school principal’s purview, Burbank school officials said. And that decision was one that some board of education members said they were comfortable with.

“I’m not going to second-guess our principals, because they are there every single day,” said Dave Kemp, the school board’s vice president. “They see the big picture,” he said.

Both Kemp and school board member Debbie Kukta said that they could not discuss the specifics behind Bailey’s reassignment because it was a personnel issue.

Both stated that Bailey’s departure would be a loss to the school district.

“I’m disappointed he will be leaving the district,” Kukta said.

Bailey’s reassignment away from drama classes at the school came after his mid-March school production of “Romeo and Juliet,” which drew some sharp criticism from parents and community members for several of its elements.

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