Rocky ROTC

Emotions ran high and accusations flew Tuesday night as the Santa Barbara School District’s Board of Education continued its discussion about the fate of the junior ROTC program at Santa Barbara High School. Assistant Superintendent Jan Zettel found himself in the crosshairs for apparent violations of due process; Zettel wrote a letter to the U.S. Army in late January informing them the district was terminating its ROTC program – weeks before the School Board began formal discussions of the matter. Dozens of ROTC supporters, including some 20 uniformed cadets and Police Chief Cam Sanchez, testified to the benefits of the program and lobbed accusations of liberal bias on the part of school administrators. The board noted the program’s high cost against dwindling enrollment in the program; by its count, ROTC fell short of its required 100-student minimum each of the past five years. Verbal jabs and angry catcalls from parents, directed primarily at Zettel, forced the board to call an emergency five-minute recess and continue the matter at a future date. Superintendent Brian Sarvis was optimistic afterwards, expressing his continued desire to try and find a way to “preserve the heart of the program.”

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