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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