Former San Marcos High Principal to Lose Third Legal Challenge?

Ed Behrens Argued He Was Unlawfully Demoted to Junior High Teacher Last Year

Ed Behrens | Credit: Paul Wellman File

Former San Marcos High School principal Ed Behrens is likely to lose his third and final legal challenge of his demotion last year to junior high school teacher. 

Behrens contended that he had been made a fall guy by school district Superintendent Cary Matsuoka and the school board in the wake of a video and chatroom incident involving a handful of San Marcos students explaining the need for 16 female students “to be eradicated” at San Marcos and other local public schools. The video featured a student showing how to use a musket and a bayonet; he referred to the girls to be eliminated as “thots,” which stands for “that ho over there.”

Behrens was terminated in March 2018 as uproar over that incident was peaking. School parents were upset by the lack of clear and timely information communicated by the district at the time of the incident and what disciplinary actions had been taken against students involved. 

Behrens’s termination proved to be politically charged, given not-so-subliminal ethnic tensions then bubbling up at the San Marcos campus. Behrens enjoyed greater support and popularity from whiter and more affluent families, while Latino families were more critical of ethnic disparities in resource allocation and test scores. Behrens argued that he was unlawfully denied his right to pursue his “liberty interest,” his chosen profession as high school administrator. 

In her tentative court ruling on Friday, Judge Pauline Maxwell rejected Behrens’s “liberty interest argument” in her tentative ruling published Friday. More than that, her final ruling will bar Behrens from trying the case again by filing an amended version of the same complaint. Behrens will not be barred, however, from appealing Maxwell’s ruling. The judge decided Wednesday morning to write her final ruling in the coming days.

This story was clarified on August 21 to reflect the difference between Judge Maxwell’s tentative and final rulings.


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