Jay Bennish on Administrative Leave

Jay Bennish staff photo.  Photo from OHS staff pages.

Jay Bennish staff photo. Photo from OHS staff pages.

Mari Davis, Reporter

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Sponsor of Black Student Alliance, AP human geography and African American studies teacher, Jay Bennish has worked at Overland since the beginning of the 21st century. Bennish may be best known by people outside Overland for his highly-publicized comments about then-President George H.W. Bush recorded by a student in his class.

This year, Bennish has been on administrative leave since the end of August,  until a yearlong replacement, Bryan Rusin, was hired in October. Despite the speculation from students and staff alike, due to the sensitive nature of the current allegations, no one is able to comment and no one knows much beyond gossip. The Scout has attempted to find the facts.

New OHS Principal Aleshia Armour,  clarified the status of Mr. Bennish’s sudden exit,  “We realize that Mr. Bennish was here for a long time and that students were shocked when he seemed to disappear; however, we are always concerned first with the well-being of our students.  I know that having substitute teachers all the time is really hard, especially for AP classes, so I deeply appreciate the support that the district is giving us by hiring a full-time teacher to replace Mr. Bennish so that our students can thrive.” 

A letter was also sent to the families of Bennish’s students on September 11th, 2019, which read, “Your student’s teacher, Mr. Bennish, is currently on leave. […] We appreciate your support during this time. Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns.” This letter didn’t supply much information about what is actually going on with Bennish, but it did give parents some sense of reassurance that the situation would eventually be solved.

There isn’t much that anyone can really say about the current situation because when jobs are at stake, conditions are almost always legal. However, the Scout can openly divulge that the current situation involves comments and actions by Bennish regarding race.  And due to the media storm around Bennish in 2006, it is likely media organizations will jump on the opportunity to rehash the past.

Bennish was featured on the Today Show and was interviewed by Matt Lauer. His suspension sparked a national debate as to what is and what isn’t okay for teachers to say in a classroom full of students. Bennish was taken off of administrative leave less than two weeks after he was caught in his “rant”, but this time he has been gone for over 100 days.

Jay Bennish is a tenured teacher and is known as a controversial figure, both in the Overland community and nationally. In this specific situation, there isn’t enough information to bring us to a conclusion as to Bennish’s future in the OHS community.  This story will be updated as more information is revealed.