SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

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SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement
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Cary Matsuoka (Photo: SBUSD)

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) Superintendent Cary Matsuoka suddenly announced his retirement at Tuesday's packed school board meeting at Santa Barbara Junior High’s Marjorie Luke Theatre.

As a large portion of the crowd cheered at this announcement, Matsuoka cited the need to spend more time with his family as a reason for retirement and not the recent criticism on his job performance.

Matsuoka was hired in 2016 under a three-year contract making over $330,000 a year. His tenure has been plagued with several controversies including the demotion of San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens in 2018, a potential lawsuit by conservative "watchdog group" Fair Education over the district's contract with Just Communities, and allegations of sexual abuse and misconduct at Santa Barbara High School's MAD Academy that have yet to be fully explained.

petition organized by members of the Fair Education group has garnered over 850 signatures opposing any extension of Matsuoka's employment contract. The petition cites poor academic performance; unacceptable school facilities; reckless financial oversight and budgeting; inadequate community outreach, communication, and responsiveness; and irresponsible management style.

Last week Matsuoka informed SBUSD in a special meeting that he will not extend his contract after it ends June 30, 2021. On Tuesday he announced his last day will be June 30, 2020, but according to a statement from SBUSD he originally planned to retire this past June. 

"He postponed retirement when he identified three pressing needs that required his on-going presence – first, the hiring of the next cohort of principals at McKinley, La Cumbre, La Colina, and San Marcos High School; second, getting a major lawsuit resolved and have now received a favorable judgment; and continuing to build up the leadership team for the district. 'I was determined to build culture and systems that would survive the next transition of leadership and I can now retire knowing that I did my best to leave Santa Barbara Unified in a better place,'" according to the statement.

School Board President Wendy Sims-Moten made it clear the board did not ask Matsuoka to leave and respects his decision to retire. "Cary is a very effective leader who has had the instincts, wisdom and courage to make tough decisions and take needed action. It has pained me to hear the way that some members of our community have mis-characterized Cary, perhaps not understanding the kind of leader and man he is. This has been a rocky road at times, but I’ve been so impressed with his ability to stay grounded and on course," said Sims-Moten.

Former Santa Barbara School Board President Kate Parker echoed these sentiments. “It was a pleasure to work with Cary during our time together at Santa Barbara Unified. It's never easy to be a school district superintendent, and I'm forever grateful for his educational leadership and for his calm, measured guidance on district challenges,” Parker said. “I send him many congratulations on his retirement, and I wish much success to the Board as they search for great candidates to step into his shoes.”

With 40 years under his belt as an educator, Matsuoka said his experience leading Santa Barbara’s public school system has been rewarding.

“I am proud of what we have accomplished these last three years, the changes in leadership standards and culture, and I commit to finishing my career with everything that I have inside of me,” he said. “I look forward to the next eight months as we turn the corner to 2020 and enroll our incoming kindergartners - the future class of 2033 - and graduate the class of 2020.”

At the November 12, 2019 meeting, the school board will initiate the process for the search and hiring of the next superintendent.  SBUSD states there will be multiple opportunities for input about the next superintendent and the district will begin posting information on the district website about the timeline and process for the search.

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a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 08:28 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

He shut down Open Alternative School, which served a significant population in this district for decades, and he didn't even attempt to meet with community leaders to re-imagine or restore it to utilize its unique approach for different learners and their families. It's been a tremendous loss. It wasn't just Ed Behrens who he demeaned and humiliated with his attitude of superiority and defensiveness. And it's been interesting how many people he dismissed by telling them he didn't trust them, when his own trustworthiness has become such an issue. He cannot be an effective leader with so many messes out there.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 10:57 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

I just paid my annual property tax bill which is 10% higher than last year's, and has a long list of 8 school bonds I am paying for. I have no children and I resent being taxed to educate kids when it seems too high a percentage of the money goes to over-paid administrators and the testing scores show the failure of the system to get the kids proficient in the basics necessary for survival.

RHS Oct 23, 2019 09:11 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

It is reported elsewhere that his opponents were chanting "lock him up" at meetings. If this is true one has to ask what kind of rabble is being led here? Honest debate about agendas is one thing but mob rule is frightening, especially when brought to bear on the educational heart of our community. I suspect from what is public that this man has, in fact, been driven from office with little cause.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 12:57 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

I think there is a "cause" and it is the extremely poor rating of most of the public schools, including some of the charters. (Adelante's, for instance, is abysmal. It should be child abuse to send a child there, even though learning a second language in elementary school is highly desirable.) And though there may be other causes, to do with teaching, for instance, the school district is a big organization where the buck stops there or should do so.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 08:53 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Superintendent Matsuoka Resigns- Superintendent Matsuoka is a class act and a fine educator, with an unimpeachable track record. Who in their right mind would continue to subject themselves to a constant barrage of criticism and turmoil from groups and individuals who have no knowledge about education and are only about fueling the flames of racism to foster a political agenda? Santa Barbara's children are the real losers in this ongoing education train wreck!

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 08:16 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

The article doesn't need to be peppered with one sided politics. It's simple: The contract with Just Communities needs to be cancelled. What is offered is nothing less than indoctrination and misinformation that swings the mind of a child towards emotional constructs which make the supple mind vulnerable and weak. It's mind fog used to manipulate and brings on only political agendas of how to control young minds. Stop the nonsense now.

PitMix Oct 23, 2019 12:02 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Wrong wing extremist poppycock meant to maintain the inequality in our society at the expense of our youth. Hopefully the other 90,000 of us can maintain a steady hand in the face of 850 extremists.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 10:47 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Vulnerable and weak. Mind fog. Control young minds. What poppycock! And these yahoos are now determining who leads the school district? Come on, parents and teachers. Boot these creeps back into their caves where they can wallow in their Leave It to Beaver 'emotional constructs'.

Alexblue Oct 23, 2019 09:29 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Yes, stop the nonsense with your paranoid conspiracy theories. Just Communities has done some very good work and they have also screwed up. So they should do better. The fact is, someone needs to teach people how to be accept others as individuals and seems like a lot of you parents are failing.

SoCalMommy Oct 23, 2019 07:49 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Good. We need someone who will protect our children. The fact that he turned a blind eye to the abuse of the MADD academy was strike one and done with me. There is no excuse for someone with decades of experience to sweep that under the rug. Shame on him. Good riddance.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 07:35 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Sad to see the far right has so much clout in SB schools. Maybe now these phonies will crawl back to their Fox News screens and leave our schools alone. A few of them might have had some legitimate gripes regarding the SM ex-principal or the MADD Academy. But when some of the big names in local conservatism show up to get on camera, you know this is outside influence. The public needs to be very aware that some of the language they were using is right from conservative websites. Think Koch Brothers, Betsy de Vos et. al. and those that want to undermine public education.

a-1574471246 Oct 23, 2019 10:56 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

What? When the public who pays hefty property taxes and supports school bonds for the intended purpose of instructing ALL students to attaining proficiency, the expectation of accountability is not political. Kids have little time to prepare for adult life. They deserve better.

forrestmv18 Oct 23, 2019 09:46 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Just Communities is racist and bigoted. Along with Liberation Theology it is interesting how the Progressive Fascists have decided that Caucasians are racist but somehow that stereotype is not, in and of itself, racist? Good Gawd...

PitMix Oct 23, 2019 01:34 PM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

8:29, what specifically do you find objectionable about Just Communities? That they try to address the effects of systemic racism in our society? That they work long hours in a non-profit at low pay to do this? Yes, their curriculum reminds us of some uncomfortable things, especially as a genuine liberal such as yourself. But unless you are one of those people that like to pretend that our society has no inequities that need to be addressed, then their curriculum seems relevant and pertinent to me.

Alexblue Oct 23, 2019 07:44 AM
SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka Announces Retirement

Fortunately, they really don't have much clout. The ridiculous lawsuit from the right wing mouth breathers is going away. However, that doesn't mean there aren't serious issues in our public schools. I used to be a big teachers union supporter, not so much these days because we seem to have abandoned basic accountability from our teachers and administrators. Sadly, much of the culture in our educational system has been degraded to the point that many of the teachers and administrators who are charged with maintaining behavior in our schools are themselves terrible bullies. Yes, there are many dedicated and amazing people working our public schools but there is a real "turn a blind eye" attitude to the problem employees.

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