Retiring 20-year high school and middle school drama teacher Mark Dressler said he’s been left out of the process to hire his replacement, which he predicted will be announced as early as this week.
Some parents also expressed their concern over the future of the highly popular theater arts program and plan to voice their complaints about also being left out of the hiring process at the upcoming school board meeting on Tuesday, May 12. They have sent out emails asking other parents with similar concerns about being excluded in school-related decisions to attend.
Dressler is the highest paid teacher in the district, with pay that tops school principals and most administrators at $208,982.56, including benefits. Dressler received pay under two contracts with the district, a 140% assignment, according to Leisa Winston, the district’s human resources and public communications director.
Two new full-time teachers will replace Dressler, Winston said, and interviews are ongoing. The job description is no longer posted among other available district jobs on the edjoin.org website. Dressler taught four periods of drama at Thurston Middle School and three at Laguna Beach High School.
Dressler is retiring at 61 to take advantage of a periodic retirement incentive offered by district administrators that boosts teachers who retire into a higher pension bracket, a so-called golden handshake.
“I was frozen out of the process,” Dressler said. “I was not allowed on the panel,” adding that he believes accepting the incentive prevented him from participating. “The better question is what harm would it do for me to participate,” he asked Tuesday. Others who work in the drama department were allowed on the panel, including part-time choral teacher Roxanne Ward, Dressler said.
Dressler said he “never got a straight answer” as to why he’s not been allowed to participate in the selection process. He hopes to be able to train the new teachers prior to the end of the school year. He won’t be allowed to return as a consultant later, he said, unless he volunteers.