EXCLUSIVE: Jay Sedrish, who was hired to teach a course at the Columbia College of Hollywood on unit production management and assistant director duties (which was to include set safety) has “withdrawn” from the college following a barrage of complaints from students, former students and those in the entertainment industry.
Sedrish’s exit comes after numerous emails, calls and even an online petition was started asking for his removal and criticizing the school for its lack of judgment in hiring him. The online Facebook sites for Sarah Jones exploded yesterday with commenters saying that they were going to call and email the school to ask for Sedrish’s removal after Deadline broke the news yesterday that the former Midnight Rider executive producer and upm was teaching. Sedrish had not disclosed his involvement in the incident to his students after four weeks in and, as part of the course, the school’s Dean confirmed to Deadline that he was going to be teaching set safety as part of the class.
Sedrish pleaded guilty to criminal trespassing and felony involuntary manslaughter in the death of 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones and the injury of several others earlier this year. The Midnight Rider production company was also cited by OSHA for safety violations and said that the supervisors (which, as UPM, Sedrish was the primary one) weren’t upfront with their own crew.
The online petition, which had almost 200 signatures, was started by a man who said he was a former student of the college and that he felt “a great amount of shame, and humiliation for being associated with this school, that has taken on a known felon” and called it “a great slap in the face for the family of Ms. Jones … as a student of CCH I demand that this man be removed from campus, and should not be allowed to interact with students on any level.” Other commenters who signed the petition said they were also current or former students or worked in the industry. One who signed said she was a former teacher at the College.
Columbia College administrators issued this statement today, confirming Sedrish’s exit:
“Columbia College Hollywood has since 1952 sought to offer its students the finest education possible in film, television, and now new media and digital arts. Towards that goal we hired as an instructor an individual who shares responsibility for a heartbreaking incident in Georgia that took the life of a member of a film crew and injured others. We thought his professional skill sets could serve as valuable instructional tools for our students. However well-intentioned, we obviously did not realize the strong ongoing sentiment within the entertainment community and elsewhere opposing this individual having any connection to the film industry let alone teaching film students.
The individual in question has withdrawn from teaching effective immediately.”