Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal title=
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal
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Ed Behrens speaking on his own behalf during the March 13, 2018 meeting  (Photo: John Palminteri of KEYT News)

By edhat staff

Former San Marcos High School Principal Ed Behrens filed an appeal on Friday after a Santa Barbara County Superior Court dismissed his lawsuit against the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD).

The lawsuit, which was filed on May 21, 2018, argued that Behrens should be reinstated as Principal after being wrongfully removed from his position.

Local law firm Capello & Noël represented Behrens alleging a violation of constitutional rights and unlawful retaliation in violations of California's labor codes. 

Last March, Behrens was demoted after a student posted a threatening message on social media targeting other students.  Parents complained they were not promptly informed and their children were put at risk stating administrators mishandled the incident. The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department did not find an immediate threat relating to the video.

During a follow-up community three-hour meeting, many of the public comments were positive and praising of Behrens. he majority vote of the school board ruled to continue with demoting Behrens, largely being referred to as a "personnel matter."

Behrens, with a 27-year teaching career including principal at San Marcos High School from 2011 until 2018, alleges that SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka used Behrens as a scapegoat for the district's mishandling of the incident and then spread false and misleading information about Behrens to the board and to the public.

"In deposition, Matsuoka admitted that strategic public statements he made about Ed were false," says Leila Noël, partner in the law firm Cappello & Noël. "He also carefully controlled the information to the board and Ed about Ed’s performance to lead the board to the predetermined result he wanted: Ed’s removal from SMHS. We are pursuing this case to ensure justice is done."

Behrens was reassigned as a junior high school teacher which resulted in a salary cut of over $50,000 per year.

The lawsuit contends that by demoting Behrens, the district violated his rights under the Education Code and District regulations. In addition to being reinstated to his principal position, Behrens is seeking back pay as a result of the demotion and punitive damages.

Matsuoka recently announced that he would not seek to extend his contract with the district, which is scheduled to expire on June 30, 2021. 

SBUSD has previously stated they cannot discuss litigation. 


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a-1571629009 Oct 20, 2019 08:36 PM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

Move on Mr Behrens! We don't want you back, you weren't doing amazing things at the school anyways. There is tons of crime, fights and drug-dealing on school. My gifted student got hooked on opioids at school because kids sell those drugs at school! You didn't do anything special, I don't know why you keep appealing it, just move on Let It Go!

a-1571635295 Oct 20, 2019 10:21 PM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

It was because your child found the drugs available at school that they took them? Whatever. I took acid at lunch time a couple of times, a few decades back, smoked tobacco and pot at The Tree across Turnpike. I did not buy or share drugs at San Marcos. I grew out of that crap young. Hope they all do.

a-1571635836 Oct 20, 2019 10:30 PM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

8:36- you blame a high school principal because your child made the choice to try drugs repeatedly enough to get addicted? I'm sorry, but the principal is not the problem...

a-1571663734 Oct 21, 2019 06:15 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

There are kids selling adderal at school, targeting athletes and other kids with the lure of them helping you study. It is way too readily available on campus, insanity!

a-1571663817 Oct 21, 2019 06:16 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

I blame the lack of security and oversight at the school for the daily fights and drug dealing that happen on campus. SM is the worst public HS in town and has been for a long time.

a-1571670542 Oct 21, 2019 08:09 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

It's a hard pill to swallow, I'm sure...your kid getting hooked on drugs, while not entirely your fault, is far closer to being your fault than that of the principal. Drugs have always been and will always be in schools.

a-1571670607 Oct 21, 2019 08:10 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

He was unfairly treated. If there is anything happening at SMHS now that is the unfortunate dilemma of the current principal. Why have problems exacerbated? Because the idea of supporting, promoting and encouraging young minds to participate in a cancel culture is detrimental to organization and a sure fire way to induce chaos. Rules keep people in check. We don't have to like them, but they create a level playing field to start from. One to break them? Go ahead. I did. And guess what? I paid the price until I got back in line. It's not asking too much to give kids the authority they need to succeed. They may hate it, but once they figure out where it leads, participation is a breeze.

a-1571671234 Oct 21, 2019 08:20 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

I have just learned about the San Marcos Hi School issue and am sad to have read some of the comments. Some of it sounds hysterical and reminds me of what happened in Salem so many years ago. In situations like the one here, it seems to me that it is best to allow proper investigation to take place by those who are best suited to do so, and then be willing to accept the decisions of those persons or agencies who made them. If one is not trusting of those results, there is always resort to a judicial authority to review, uphold, or overturn the results. Without accepting this civilized manner, a community risks causing the same terrible result that caused such suffering in Salem.

bigone Oct 21, 2019 09:05 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

Our son graduated from San Marcos when Mr Behrens was there and is now in the Air Force, preparing for a career as a commercial pilot when he separates from the military. Many of his friends have already graduated from college and are pursuing successful career paths. Without knowing all the details, Ed seemed like a genuine, caring principal. The fact that there were problems under Mr Behrens tenure cannot be blamed on him. The entire public school system in California has problems and parents should look at themselves and how they raise, or choose not to raise, their children. The situation at San Marcos speaks more about them and what is going wrong in the state versus trying to blame this on faculty.

winter Oct 21, 2019 09:54 AM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

I was a parent, volunteer, for 2 daughters at San Marcos...this all hit after they graduated.
He was an amazing Principal...cared about the students, staff...
He did get a bum rap...
As far as those posts about drugs....
I know the school was tight...under his leadership.
Security, on every corner..for lunch...often teachers, coaches, Assistant Principal..checking IDs...

PitMix Oct 21, 2019 03:28 PM
Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal

He may have been a great teacher, but a poor administrator. So it is possible to hold those two concepts at the same time without an explosion going off in your head. He may also be a decent administrator but not so good at managing the politics in the District. Suing them is not going to endear him to them, but maybe he will get a good settlement out of it.

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