More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

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More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy
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(Photo: MAD Academy)

By edhat staff

Santa Barbara Unified School District's (SBUSD) public meeting on Tuesday revealed more claims of misconduct involving Santa Barbara High School's MAD Academy and its director.

Earlier this month edhat reported the Multimedia Arts & Design (MAD) program director Dan Williams was placed on administrative leave pending an investigation and returned to finish the school year before ultimately retiring. Williams is in his 40's. 

Santa Barbara High School Principal Elise Simmons stated SBUSD and Williams came to an "amicable agreement" and the investigation is not criminal, but a confidential personnel matter.

Many parents of Santa Barbara High School students commented on edhat and social media platforms claiming there's more to the story.

At Tuesday's meeting, Mark and Tami Sherman, parents of a current MAD Academy student and a former student who graduated in 2018, stated their older son came forward with allegations of inappropriate behavior at the academy. He claims he showed Williams inappropriate text messages in January 2018 that were sent from then-MAD Operations Director Pablo Sweeney. Williams allegedly brushed off the incident and said the texts must have been sent to him in error due to crossed wires from the Montecito Debris Flow, reports Jerry Roberts.

A year later, in January 2019, Shermans' son reported the incident along with screenshots, emails, text messages, and voice recordings displaying Sweeney's "predatory behavior" to Santa Barbara High School Assistant Principal Tiffany Carson. After reporting this incident, Sweeney was subsequently barred from being on campus, reports The Independent.

"Unfortunately, we are… intimately aware of the inappropriate relationships and the reprehensible and dangerous actions and inactions that define the culture of the MAD Academy, as exhibited by their current leadership,” said Sherman during Tuesday's meeting, as reported by Jerry Roberts.

Aside from Willams being a state Mandated Reporter and allegedly failing to report such an incident, a video has surfaced allegedly showing Williams partying with underage students.

The video, provided by Ventura County Public Defender and MAD Academy parent Justin Tuttle, shows several students with a bong and a marijuana-filled glass jar with Williams in the background, reports KEYT News. 

The SBUSD has yet to make a public comment about Sweeney and has not further commented on the reasons behind Williams’s temporary leave outside of it being confidential but not criminal.

Related Articles

 May 1, 2019: MAD Academy Director to Retire Following Investigation

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31 Comments

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a-1558330273 May 19, 2019 12:12 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

There certainly have been a lot of crazy big school controversies on Cary Matsuoka’s watch at the District. Time to show him the door. We need real leadership, not career politicians.

Factotum May 17, 2019 06:01 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Daniel Williams Teacher (2017) Regular pay: $86,394.49 Overtime pay: $0.00 Other pay: $2,896.10 Total pay: $89,290.59 Benefits: $15,016.82 Total pay & benefits: $104,307.41 (Transparent California)

sbres May 18, 2019 05:18 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

That's probably very close to what he makes but when he "retires" he does not take that with him. In fact, you can't "retire" before you're 50 no matter how long you've been teaching - well, I guess you can but you get $0 retirement benefits which brings me back to.....what kind of deal is the District cutting him?

Factotum May 18, 2019 02:14 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Schools operate on a 9 month year, leaving employees free for three months to pick up other employment to augment their 9 month teaching compensation package. When both medical and pensions are part of the total package, this leaves more discretion in spending their remainder take-home pay. If $104K pay packages for working 9 months a year are not satisfactory, don't take the job. Typically, applications for these positions run 40 persons deep.

Factotum May 18, 2019 01:38 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Transparent California uses data provided by the district and is also available at the State Treasurers Office. This organization makes it more readily searchable. You can trust it as much as the district that provides the data to state authorities.

macpuzl May 18, 2019 01:06 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

"Transparent California" is neither transparent nor California. It is just one of the many names used by the tax-exempt "free-market think tank" Nevada Policy Research Institute (NPRI). NPRI refuses to provide its own funding sources, stating, “NPRI respects the privacy of our donors, which includes the amount of a donor’s gift”. NPRI's primary funding source, as determined by The Conservative Transparency Project, is Donors Capital Fund, a dark-money source of funding for conservative groups. Its donors also include The Cato Institute, co-founded by the Koch brothers, and organizations affiliated with the climate change denial movement. NPRI spends 75% of its revenue on six-figure salaries and benefits. Its goal is to undermine support for employee unions nationwide, thereby decreasing salaries and increasing corporate profits.

sbres May 17, 2019 05:02 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

How does one "retire" in their 40's? This is from the State Teachers Retirement website: "CalSTRS 2% at 60: You’re eligible to retire at age 50 with at least 30 years of service credit, at age 55 with at least five years of service credit, or under the special circumstances of concurrent retirement." Unless the word "retire" was used instead of "resigned" there is something REALLY fishy going on at the District.

Alexblue May 17, 2019 02:58 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

The district's administration is a mockery while they collect fact paychecks and lifelong benefits they are putting our kids in danger, lying, and covering up. Horrible.

Fitness1 May 17, 2019 01:42 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

"Sweeney was barred from being on campus." And the reason charges have not been filed??? "Yeah, let's just pawn him off to another school district instead, and let them deal with it" mentality. SMH

Rinconer May 17, 2019 08:09 AM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

When the principal says, “It is not a criminal matter”, what she really means is that “It is a criminal matter” but SBUSD Administration is trying to limit their liability at the expense of SBUSD students. Why not be accountable?

a-1558330273 May 17, 2019 08:18 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

And likely they don’t want to taint the MAD Academy or its fundraising capabilities. Dan Williams was on stage with Billy Baldwin during this years fund raiser a week AFTER this story broke. Talk about brash!! Nothing to see here, let’s all act like nothing is happening!

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 11:52 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

One of the interesting phenomena that allowed these two to get away with their predatory behavior is the unspoken rule among teenage boys at this age is to NEVER narc, not even on your enemies. It looks to me like Williams and Sweeney took advantage of this fact. My son is 21 now and just informed me when I asked, that Williams had beer pong parties at his house and drank along with them. It’s criminal the school turned a blind eye. This has been going on for decades.

a-1558330273 May 17, 2019 08:33 AM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Please consider sharing this with the DA’s office. This is serious if it is an isolated event, but knowing that it has taken place for multiple years is horrible.

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 07:16 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

I don't understand why there isn't more oversight in the school system and with people who work with children in general. I work for cottage hospital and they are constantly sending us out surveys and asking us questions and some of it is about management. If a safe place is created for people to say when something's wrong then they will report when something's wrong. Of course there will be reports that are false, but that will probably be the minority. Come on guys, got to keep a better eye out. Most people who work with our children are true and good people but there's always some bad apples and more supervision and oversight will help catch them.

a-1558330273 May 17, 2019 05:16 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Cottage shouldn’t talk. Exacting how competent is their head pediatric surgeon? Has he botched any cases? Was he sued multiple times at his previous positions? Does cottage hide behind its morbidity and mortality committee?

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 07:48 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

My understanding is that if a doctor or nurse at Cottage got high with their patients, showed them lewd photos, or had late-night booze parties...they would be shown the door.

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 06:48 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Nearly all the students knew exactly what Williams and Sweeny were up to. When teachers and administrators become "friends" with students, this is what happens. If Williams was in fact having wrestling and massage parties with underage male students, I think he should not get a dime in retirement. It is so sickening that the teachers unions protect their own, and then provide sub-standard education in California where we rank near the bottom of the barrel.

sbres May 16, 2019 05:43 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Does anyone else find it interesting that the former principal at SB High where all this went down is now the Human Resources Director for the District?

CoastWatch May 16, 2019 05:17 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Maybe, just maybe the Schools should eliminate these programs and replace them with programs that will enable students to be successful in the working world... We (Country) is in dire need of WELDERS, ELECTRICIANS, PLUMBERS, and so many of the Trades... College isn't for everyone, in fact, most of the people I know in the "trades" make a hell of a lot more money than most of the "College Grads" I know....

a-1558330273 May 17, 2019 05:19 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Apparently kids think it’s more “respectable” to get a BA (aka Barista of Arts degree) in English or transgender studies and then work at Starbucks then to learn a useful trade.

Alexblue May 17, 2019 02:42 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Kids at MAD academy learn skills that can earn money without a college degree, so I guess you don't know what you're talking about. Beyond that, yeah, we need tradespeople.

PitMix May 17, 2019 01:27 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Probably you can make a good living working in trades but very few will have the option of doing something that will make you one of the elite 1%. And that kind of work can also break you down physically. I think those programs got eliminated because too often the minority kids were shunted into the vocational classes and the GATE classes were mostly caucasian. If you want to bring those programs back, you'd better fix that problem first.

goletafishsurf May 17, 2019 08:31 AM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

There is so much truth to this. It's almost as if there is a bias now against working in a trade after graduating from high school. College is a great way to gain connections and is a gateway to many sturdy careers. On the other hand, it's too often late-bloomers get into the trades, after all of their studying, for the better pay and also a better work experience...

Thomas John May 16, 2019 06:02 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

The schools need to serve both groups. Yes, we need more trained trades - but we also need to provide for those kids that will go on to college and graduate programs too.

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 03:14 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Yikes. Lots of edhatters called it in the comment section of the first article. Sad it took this long for these bad apples to be removed. Now what to do about the School District ...

a-1558330273 May 16, 2019 11:56 PM
More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

Yet it looks to me like the curtain has only been pulled back on Sweeney and Williams is getting to skate. Hopefully more students (alums) will now come forward.

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