Credentials Revoked for Santa Barbara Teacher

By edhat staff

The teaching credentials of a former Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) teacher have been revoked after numerous allegations of abuse.

The State of California banned Matef Harmachis from ever teaching again in March 2020 and a civil lawsuit was filed against him and the district on November 30, 2020.

The lawsuit, filed by Manly, Stewart & Finaldi, alleges Harmachis of emotional distress, sexual battery, and harassment while accusing SBUSD of negligent supervision, hiring, and retention.

The lawsuit alleges that, in 2017,. Harmachis committed sexual battery and sexual harassment on a female student during school hours. It states he was placed under arrest and criminally charged where he pled no contest and received a criminal sentence. 

“The abuse of a student by former SBUSD teacher Matef Harmachis in 2017 was reprehensible.  He violated our trust and standards for professional conduct with students. Our sympathies go out to the victim and her family. The district pursued every legal avenue and California Ed code to ban Mr. Harmachis from the classroom,” said SBUSD Public Information Officer Camie Barnwell.

In 2005, Harmachis was accused of physical assault and sexually inappropriate comments toward students but was never charged. SBUSD spend over $1 million in legal fees to terminate him but eventually had to retain his employment.

“Our parents, staff, students, and community should understand that the district has worked diligently within the limits of the law and state regulations over the years to terminate Mr. Harmachis even though he was not convicted of a crime. We were unsuccessful in that effort and ultimately had to reinstate him as a teacher in 2006,” said Barnwell.

Attorney Morgan Stewart who represents the alleged assault victim stated SBUSD neglected to look after an care for its student body by placing Harmachis in a position harm students, after it knew and admitted that he was a danger.

“Even now, the District continues to regularly invite Mr. Harmachis back onto campus to work with students by virtue of his involvement with the Ethnic Studies Now! group. The District even continues to have pictures of Mr. Harmachis up on their website as part of their Ethnic Studies curriculum,” stated Stewart. “We absolutely encourage any other students, past or present, that were subjected to inappropriate treatment at the hands of Mr. Harmachis to contact Santa Barbara law enforcement. The District needs to wake up and ensure that its students are protected from this predator.” 

Barnwell stated SBUSD was shocked and concerned to see Harmachis attend a meeting held at the district as a member of the Ethnic Studies Now! non-profit organization. She clarified that he was not invited by anyone at the district to attend this meeting and his membership in this non-profit was not within the control of the district.

“Mr. Harmachis is not welcome at any district function or on any district campus. We have conveyed that position to Ethnic Studies Now! organizers in the strongest terms,” said Barnwell.

When the district first learned of Harmachis’ inappropriate actions in 2017, he was immediately removed from the classroom and placed on leave. While on leave, he was not allowed on any school campus and school administrators were told to report to district officials if he appeared, according to Barnwell.

“We worked diligently and urged the State of California to revoke his teaching credential, which finally occurred March 2020, and permanently banned him from ever teaching again. Mr. Harmachis was officially taken off payroll and his ties with the school district were severed by the Santa Barbara Unified School District on March 8, 2020,” said Barnwell.

The civil lawsuit is seeking financial damages on behalf of the victim and her family.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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  1. Without a conviction (as per the outcome in 2005) it’s quite difficult to fire a teacher. The teachers union (like the police union) goes to bat for every teacher no matter what.
    Hooray Unions in the 21st century…?

  2. Absolutely disgusting they let him in again after the 2005 allegations.
    He played the race card in 2005 saying the only reason the district acted against him was because of his race.
    So race outweighed the minor victims rights.
    Could you imagine being a teenager, abused by a teacher, mentor and then having to speak up publicly about the abuse.
    Poor kids.
    But SBUSD has had a few of these type of scenarios, just recently there was the head custodian at the HS who was arrested for using peep holes, possession of child porn & abusing a minor. The district never stated if he is still employed despite numerous patents asking on their board zoom calls.
    Then there was the DP Principal who left his last position because of sexual misconduct, that SBUSD apparently didn’t bother doing a simple Google of his name.
    And the MAD academy incident.
    This guy is in the schools also teaching “Ethnic Studies”. Is it his culture that abused minor females?
    Guys this are hideous and should be tar & feathered at a minimum and never allowed anywhere near children again.
    Good ok’d SBUSD rolling over and not doing everything to protect children.
    How many other children has this guy abused in the last 15 years?
    Glad I don’t have children in SBUSD.

  3. DP sports has had more than their share of issues under Feldhaus. The Principles don’t want to deal with the issues….as a result, taxpayers are liable for damages. No real accountability in the system, afraid to confront the Union – it’s own swamp

  4. We just keep seeing example after example of teachers and police officers who make mistakes/are bad and the union works the system for them. This isn’t normal…the vast majority of people who are bad at their jobs and/or do something that was wrong/illegal (but perhaps not definitively provable) can be let go. You continually defend the teachers union…yet they are a horrible organization that is actively working against the common good.

  5. Ok so SBUSD just confirmed my worst fear.
    We put 3 kids through SBUSD and i can say it was a joke. The level of education was substandard and the lack of any extra curricular activities was the first insult. The lack of accountability was the second insult…Now i see SBUSC spends $1MM trying to fire someone who is clearly unfit, and cant get rid of the person! Yet, this “system” of education continues to just roll on. I’m sad to have to pay any $$ in taxes to this system, but more sad for the poor quality of education for our kids, and the utter negligence that the administration shows, plainly. So f’d up they can’t do the right thing. SAD SAD SAD and gross negligence of this SBUSD administration. More sad we have to trust them with our kids.

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