Ron Martin, the drama teacher who was at the center of Corona del Mar High School's Rent controversy in late 2008/early 2009–and who had been on paid leave following battery allegations from a student in June–resigned over the summer, the school district disclosed.
After having taught at CdM High for nine years, Martin will not be returning to a Newport-Mesa Unified School District classroom, according to spokeswoman Laura Boss.
Ron Martin, Corona del Mar High School Drama Teacher, on Leave Due to Report of Battery Involving Student, District Confirms
ACLU Announces Settlement of Suit Tied to Corona del Mar High's Production of Rent
“The award winning drama program at Corona del Mar Middle/High School is an important part of the school culture,” Boss reportedly told Newport Beach Patch. “A new drama teacher has been selected and she will be in place to support the program for the new school year.”
Boss in June confirmed for the local media that Ronald Knight Martin, then 57, was placed on paid leave because of a report of battery involving a student. She did not indicate which party was allegedly battered but did add the incident was not sexual in nature. She later followed up no weapon was involved.
Despite Martin's departure, the Newport Beach Police investigation into the assault allegations remains open, according to Jennifer Manzella, the department's spokeswoman. She added no arrests have been made and Martin has not been charged with anything at this point.
The school district is cooperating with police in the investigation, Boss reportedly told Patch.
Martin was placed on administrative leave in October 2009 due to an unspecified “personnel matter,” the district said at the time, without indicating if it was related to the then-brewing Rent controversy.
Corona del Mar High's principal cancelled the winter theater production because the hit Broadway musical includes themes related to AIDS and gaydom. After howls of protest and national headlines, the show was allowed to go on … with some age-appropriate revisions.
But the production still ratted the campus. The Kansas Christian ministry of the Rev. Fred “God Hates Fags” Phelps showed up to protest opening night as did counter-protesters. More troubling, three CdM varsity football players posted a video on the school's Facebook page in in which they described how and where they would rape and fatally shoot a then 17-year-old girl who had posted an online message supporting Rent's staging.
After her mother was led to believe punishment was coming, one boy confronted the girl on campus. They never were punished, but they did receive football awards. The female theater student and her parents, with an assist from the ACLU, sued the district, and Martin stood next to the girl's mother when a settlement was announced that included the district agreeing to take several steps to teach faculty, staff and students about tolerance.
Martin went on to win a National Youth Theatre award for direction that year.