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San Marcos Parents Rally Behind Embattled Principal

Ed Behrens Reportedly Demoted in Wake of Violent Student Video


Supporters of San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens are circulating a letter describing him as “the scapegoat for the embarrassment brought upon [Santa Barbara Unified School District] when concerned parents raised important questions regarding the district’s lack of a well-defined … plan to handle cyber threats.” According to the letter, the district has informed Behrens that at the end of this school year he will be removed from his position as San Marcos principal and offered a teaching job.

Since January 19, many San Marcos parents have been critical of the district’s response to a video that surfaced featuring a male student describing how to kill female students with a musket and bayonet; a related social media post made by another male student targeted at least 16 female students. At a town hall event on February 5, Superintendent Cary Matsuoka apologized to parents for his office’s missed opportunities early on to inform all parents of the violent video and post, not just those of the children directly involved. Matsuoka said that four days passed before his team was able to learn the full extent of the threats and their impacts on families district-wide.

The parent letter, dated February 28, states that “the concerned San Marcos community is seeking a dialogue with [Matsuoka] … and the school board to assess options to retain Mr. Behrens as … principal.” Behrens has served as the school’s principal for six years and as assistant principal for 14 years previously.

The staff recommendation concerning the San Marcos High School Principal is a personnel item that limits our ability to comment,” according to a statement from the district. “However, it can be stated that high school principals, like all other 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.”

Behrens was unavailable Thursday morning for comment.

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