San Marcos High School’s Principal Ed Behrens has been demoted and many of his supporters feel it’s related to the threatening social media video involving students.
A group of parents, students, and community members are rallying around Behrens by objecting to this decision allegedly made by Santa Barbara Unified School District Superintendent Cary Matsuoka.
The “SMHS Supporters of Ed” have distributed a statement announcing they were informed that Behrens was demoted this past Wednesday and was offered a position as a teacher with a “dramatic pay cut or resignation effective at the completion of the current school year.”
The rest of the statement reads as follows:
“This decision by Superintendent Matsuoka comes on the heels of a social media threat made to the school on January 19, 2018. A groundswell of dismayed and outraged supporters of San Marcos High’s leadership is growing in defense of Mr. Behrens. Mr. Behrens has been in his role as Principal for the past 6 years, and previously served at San Marcos as Assistant Principal for 14 years.
Supporters of Mr. Behrens believe that he has been made the scapegoat for the embarrassment brought upon the School District when concerned parents raised important questions regarding the District’s lack of a well-defined Threat Management and Communication plan to handle cyber threats.
The concerned San Marcos community is seeking a dialogue with the superintendent and the Santa Barbara School district school board to assess options to retain Mr. Behrens as the Principal at San Marcos High School.”
In January, parents became aware of a social media video depicting a male student with an antique gun and musket detailing how to attack female students. Further online discussions with other male students involved a list of nearly 16 other female students presumed to be targets of an attack.
Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department issued search warrants of the alleged students involved and determined this was not a credible threat, but parents still voiced the lack of transparency and immediacy from the school’s administration by handling this.
On February 5, Matusoka held a community event informing parents of the details and better ways to handle situations like this in the future.
The Santa Barbara Unified School District responded with the following statement:
“The staff recommendation concerning the San Marcos High School Principal is a personnel item that limits our ability to comment. However, it can be stated that high school principals, like all other school district administrators, do not acquire tenure in their positions and are subject to release or reassignment every year. The District reviews all administrator assignments, taking into account a number of different factors including performance evaluations, with a view towards making decisions to retain or release administrators from their current position based upon the best interests of students.”