Surrounds the Termination of High School Staff Members
last two weeks, four high school staff members have
announced that they will not be returning next year. These sudden
lay-offs, "resignations", and "retirements" come
as a surprise not only to the students, but also to the teachers.
Journalism teacher Jennifer Moulton, who is the Highlights advisor,
helps with the yearbook, and runs the Norman News Service is among
those who have been recommended by Principal Dr. Dan Stepenosky to be
"non re-elected". Dr. Stepenosky refused to give Beverly
Underground, nor any other news source, a comment on his reason to lay
Ms. Moulton off. Ms. Moulton was astonished to hear that her
contract had not been renewed for the following year. In the previous
two years that Ms. Moulton has been on the staff, assistant principal
Ms. GayLa Rabin has filed four teacher evaluations, all of which gave Ms.
Moulton perfect scores and only contained positive comments. Her dismissal
is not a budget issue, for the district is planning on hiring a
to Moulton, Dr. Stepenosky has never given her any real reasons to believe
that she wasn't doing a good job as a teacher, much less that her job
was in jeopardy. Moulton feels that the administration was
"two-faced" in their dealings with her. When asked if there
would be any reason to believe Dr. Stepenosky might have a personal vendetta
against her, she said that at least to her face, Dr. Stepenosky has
given her nothing but positive comments. What then, spurred the
administration to recommend Ms. Moulton to be laid off? Ms. Moulton
could only conjecture that perhaps the way she asserts herself and her
policy of letting the students run Highlights
and control its content might disagree with Stepenosky's feelings of
how a newspaper should be run. Dr. Stepenosky claims however, that he
supports Moulton's policy with Highlights. Unlike his predecessor Ben
Bushman (who was in Ms. Moulton's office nearly every week trying to
censor the paper and remove all references to the Oil Well), Dr.
Stepenosky has only expressed concerns about a Highlights article once: their
story entitled "district loses three staff members". Is it simply the threat of legal action, or is there something Dr.
Stepenosky is trying to hide? Moulton and her fellow staff members are
all bewildered as to why she would be non re-elected. According to
junior Danko Krajisnik, Ms.
Moulton's teaching ability, 13 hour work days, severe dedication to
the job, and encouraging learning environment quite simply shouldn't
add up to her being fired. "If Mr. Bushman would have still been
principal, I would have packed my bags and prepared to be fired, but I
had no idea that Dan would recommend me for non re-election,"
said Moulton. Indeed if Dr. Stepenosky's reasons for terminating Moulton
were the same as Mr. Bushman's, Stepenosky, Ms. Moulton affirms, would
not tell his reasons. When asked if he agreed with Mr. Bushman's
apprehensions on the matter of Highlights being run by the students,
Stepenosky, an assistant principal and close colleague of Mr. Bushman last
year, claims he had no knowledge of Bushman's reservations to
Moulton's program and his frequent talks with her about the content in
At the Tuesday, February 24th board of education meeting, junior
Tiffany Apel and senior Krystal Walker spoke on behalf of Ms. Rabin.
They exemplified her dedication to the school throughout these last
nine years in the district and her dedication to ASB. Before the board
they had heard that Ms. Rabin was recommended by administration to be
laid off. They spoke with Ms. Rabin before the board meeting about
what was happening to her. By the time the board meeting had started,
the "official story" as student board of education member Andrew
Steinberg put it, was that Ms. Rabin was to retire. As Apel and Walker
spoke on behalf of Ms. Rabin under the assumption that the board was
laying her off, notes were passed among the board
members because the official story was that she was going to retire.
Krystal Walker told Beverly Underground that she was approached for
giving her speech and the board had deemed it disrespectful. Walker,
however, finds the actions of the board as the truly disagreeable actions to this
"caring" and "dedicated" assistant principal. One staff member who wishes
to remain anonymous claims that Ms. Rabin had in fact been forced into
retirement earlier than she had planned under the threat of being laid
off. Stepenosky outright denies this accusation and Ms. Rabin
responded saying she could "neither confirm nor deny" that
the incident occurred. Beverly Hills Educational Foundation president and current history teacher
Stewart Horowitz said assistant principals "serve at the whim of
the administration" and that reasons for teacher lay-offs can
often by "petty". Unlike teachers after reaching tenure, every
year is a gamble for an assistant principal's job. Like Moulton, Ms.
Rabin is a cherished staff member of BHHS and students and teachers
alike are wondering if there are factors involved in Stepenosky's
recent recommendations to release staff members other than actual
performance. The reasons for the layoffs simply have not been given,
and the board of education almost always approves principal recommendations
for non re-elections of staff members.
The list of staff members that are suddenly "resigning"
continues. So far, counselor Elliot Bowles and physics teacher Kevin
Kung have also resigned. This comes during a time when non re-election
recommendations are being given, when in fact, teachers have until
June 30 to announce their resignation. The March 15 deadline to non
re-elect staff members is fast approaching, and the timing of the
recent resignations are undeniably more than just coincidence. When confronted with the
question of the peculiar timing of such "resignations", a
smiling Dr. Stepenosky said he could not comment on the matter. In a
similar fashion, Mr. Kung declared he was resigning for "personal
reasons" but would not elaborate further. It is unknown how many
more staff members will be fired, but according to Dr. Stepenosky, the
school will inevitably lose more teachers this year for one reason or
Like so much that goes on behind closed doors at Beverly Hills High
School, this is a topic that very few people are willing to talk
about, and the secrecy just seems to make suspicions increase. As
Andrew Steinberg so candidly put it, "it's something that's not
supposed to be talked about."
- Zack Anderson