BHS Theater Manager Placed On Administrative Leave By J. DOUGLAS ALLEN-TAYLOR

Tuesday June 14, 2005

The longtime manager of the Berkeley Community Theater has reportedly been placed on administrative leave, but because the Berkeley Unified School District will not comment on the reported action or even confirm it, there is no official word as to how long the leave may last, and what might be the cause. 

Berkeley High School staff members reported that a notice was placed on the office door of Theater Manager Judd Owens last week stating that Owens was on administrative leave, with no further explanation. 

Owens was not on campus and was not available for comment. 

BUSD Superintendent Michele Lawrence said by telephone that she could not comment on any personnel matters. 

BUSD Public Information Officer Mark Coplan also declined to comment on the administrative leave question, although he did release brief information about Owens’ employment history. 

Owens has worked as theater manager for three decades. In recent years, the position was transferred from the district to the Berkeley High School budget, according to Coplan. He said that in addition to managing the high school’s Community Theater and Little Theater, Owens also provides “facilities support” for the high school. 

“He sets up the large meetings that we have in the high school library, for example,” Coplan said. 

Coplan said that Owens also worked “for several decades” in the BUSD Facilities Department. 

Recently, BUSD officials have expressed concern about the cost of running the 3,000-seat Community Theater, which is used for high school, community and commercial events. 

Earlier this year, Superintendent Lawrence proposed restricting the use of the theater to the high school while the district studied the theater’s finances. But that proposal was put on hold, Coplan said, after staff indicated that the theater’s reported losses might actually be coming from its use by the high school.