Santa Ynez Vice Principal Involved in Controversial Student Arrest Is Demoted

This story was originally published by the Santa Barbara Independent and is reproduced here in partnership with Edhat.

By Tyler Hayden of The Independent

A vice principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School involved in the forced sedation and arrest of a student suspected of vaping has been demoted. 

The Board of Education voted at its June 20 meeting to downgrade the position of Peter Haws, a full-time administrator and the school’s head disciplinarian for the last nine years, to part-time administrator and part-time teacher. 

The exact nature of Haws’s new role is unclear, though sources within the district say he will no longer oversee student behavior and will instead be given ministerial responsibilities. As a teacher, he will reportedly work within the school’s independent study program.

Haws did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the school’s superintendent, Andrew Schwab. The Board of Education also declined to comment.

The January arrest of the 16-year-old Latino student prompted widespread community outcry and calls for Haws’s removal. A public petition accusing Haws of meting out harsher punishments to students of color throughout his career generated over 4,000 signatures

Haws had recommended that the student, who was found in possession of a marijuana vape pen and cartridges, be immediately expelled. The Board of Education, however, overruled his recommendation and instead transferred the student to an alternative school within the district.

The student’s pending criminal case will be dropped and his record cleared if he completes six months of probation and its accompanying terms, his family said. A third-party investigation into the incident is pending.



Written by Tyler Hayden

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  1. Forcing students and parents to get injections due to school rules is nothing new. There were people here on Edhat who were advocating for forcibly vaccinating people (the Chinese model of personal freedoms) I know it is different… a bit… but it is the slippery slope argument. Once you mandate injections for one thing, it is a small step onto another, and another. That is clearly what happened here and I think we will see that there is some sort of protocol where sedation injections are allowed by law. Danger to himself and others?
    I realize the State has some legitimate interests in forced medical interventions. If you do not agree to a blood draw after a DUI arrest you will have 1200 lbs of fat cops sit on you while the nurse takes your blood.
    I am not happy about what seems to have happened here, but if parents were informed in writing that this step can be taken, then the principal will win a large settlement. I would not be surprised to find out they settle for a shocking amount

    • “A slippery slope ****fallacy**** (SSF), in logic, critical thinking, political rhetoric, and caselaw, is a fallacious argument in which a party asserts that a relatively small first step leads to a chain of related events culminating in some significant (usually negative) effect.[1] The core of the slippery slope argument is that a specific decision under debate is likely to result in unintended consequences. The strength of such an argument depends on whether the small step really is likely to lead to the effect. This is quantified in terms of what is known as the warrant (in this case, a demonstration of the process that leads to the significant effect). This type of argument is sometimes used as a form of fearmongering in which the probable consequences of a given action are exaggerated in an attempt to scare the audience.
      The fallacious sense of “slippery slope” is often used synonymously with continuum fallacy, in that it ignores the possibility of middle ground and assumes a discrete transition from category A to category B. In this sense, it constitutes an informal fallacy. Other idioms for the slippery slope fallacy are the thin end/edge of the wedge, the camel’s nose in the tent, or If You Give a Mouse a Cookie.”

    • Edney, forced injections for punitive reasoning on ANY student, ever, for ANY reason should NOT BE ALLOWED! That’s terrifying and there is no justifying it. There is no correlation whatsoever to disease and pandemic protection, try as you might. Put down the Orange Kool-Aid. Covid injections helped to curb death and the spread of a deadly disease. This kid was punished by a tyrant with fascist religious leanings. BIG DIFFERENCE HERE.

    • I know it doesn’t fit your narrative, but 1) Principles are “at will” employees and do not belong to the teacher’s union. 2) When it comes to an assault by a teacher, the matter is criminal and the union will only play up to 35,000 of attorney fees IF you are acquitted of the charges. 3) If you are accused of violating a student’s or colleague’s civil rights, the union has no obligation to support you. This is not a union decision. This is often how school board trustees and district administration handle things to avoid the mess. Anyone, union or non-union can sue a district. This has nothing to do with a union–this is just avoiding litigation, period.

    • Livin’, thanks for the correction.
      If he can’t bring heavyweight legal to the table and therefore the school would not be looking at costly litigation after terminating him they should do so.
      When you say there’s no “obligation” to support a teacher accused of a civil rights abuse, what is the de facto position in such cases? To bow out or to defend the teacher?

    • Alex–the only thing the union would do in the case of a teacher who has been accused of violating civil rights or any other accusation is provide a representative to “witness” any meetings. Their role is always just to make sure to record and to remind all parties to adhere to the due processes that are agreed to by contract. The de facto is to support contractual agreements–no matter the accusation or the teacher. Also, most times when it comes to these situations, it is a regional representative that goes into these meetings because they have more training than the local reps. I believe, it is always up to the teacher to get attorney representation–the liability insurance (paid through dues) pays for the representation. The union does very little in any kind of conflict except make sure that everyone is adhering to the process. Often in cases where they don’t “fire” someone it is usually due to a lack of documentation, a misuse or lack of due process, or they just want to not be sued. By providing a demotion, they often hope the person will become miserable enough to quit. As I said, the union actually doesn’t provide the legal representation, but that doesn’t mean the person can’t go out and obtain representation. And when they sue, they always sue for legal fees as well. Because, many districts settle rather than going to court, it can be worth it for an attorney to take on such a case.

  2. Actually Edna it is against International Child Human Rights protecting Student with differences from corporeal punishment in public school. In 2006 the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the international body charged with monitoring compliance with the CRC, issued General Comment No. 8, discussing the right of the child to protection from corporal punishment. The committee found that article 19 “does not leave room for any level of legalized violence against children,” and that “[c]orporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment are forms of violence and States must take all appropriate legislative, administrative, social and educational measures to eliminate them.”

  3. 53244: You’re right the student is now in alternative education. And like La Cuesta most of the students do not take the A-G’s and only 4% are proficient at math and only 8% are proficient at reading. These students are hard working and the teachers are caring and committed but the system never responded to these students early enough or generously enough in elementary or even junior high. Expectations are so low. IEP’s often have mediocre goals. The data tells the whole story that students with differences at SY high are not anywhere near succeeding. I know that they do not offer one on one intensive interventions for 5 hours a day 8 days a week in the summer which is what many students need and deserve who are years behind . If you are not proficient by end of third you will be 4X likely to drop out. I do not believe the SY high can make the case that they offered and free and appropriate education when only 9% of their 11th graders are proficient in reading. Were they offered one on one intensive tutoring ? District’s sadly, all to frequently have a “wait to fail” culture where they do not provide meaningful support until a student is in the bottom 25%. And then it is often very late and hard to catch up. It is also more expensive. If you look at the states own audits on special ed you will see that for years this student group and four others, english language learners, foster youth and those with socio economic hardship are all years behind their peers with a lot less options open to them. Many also who go through La Cuesta struggle at SBCC.which no longer offers remediation in subjects that students are behind in. Students with learning differences can be successful in math and english if taught in the explicit way they need and caught early. The whole culture around special ed needs to change. What is happening here is not appropriate nor is it free. This student is paying the price already by being traumatized , given a record and on probation and very close to spiraling to juvenile hall.

    • You are wrong. I had an awful time after my dad died my freshman year and found myself in la cuesta. I was the only one that had any care about getting out and back to regular school I can assure you. And I did. The rest of my “classmates” continued their ways and did not graduate and 30 years later are either delinquent adults just getting by, in jail, or dead. Blame the upbringing, culture, and the kids own bad choices for such behavior. Stop making victims of this generation. No mater what color skin they have.

    • They have done a great deal of work to change alternative education. I think you would see a difference in students and outcomes. Most of the time, the students need a more flexible schedule–teen parents, attention issues, home-life preventing them from attending regularly. I know students who were academically motivated but the schedule of school didn’t fit, so they chose alternative ed. There is also something called middle college which is also “alternative education.” I invite you to attend the graduation ceremony held in the Sunken Gardens. It is very moving to hear their stories. They wouldn’t call themselves victims either.

  4. Good. This guy should never be involved with discipline of students again. When the resource deputy found out that kid had mental health issues (possibly an IEP? Doesn’t matter), he APOLOGIZED for how it was handled. This asshat, on the other hand, still pushed for permanent expulsion. Haws was willing to give up on a kid and make a decision (expulsion) that would affect that kid’s entire future. Shame on him!

  5. Honestly, what this former administrator and ” disciplinarian” did to this 16 year old, special ed student appears to me to fit the definition of assault… causing physical harm by pinning down and sedating a student who winds up in the hospital. Shouldn’t Haws be the one with a record and on probation . Vaping seems like mildly delinquent adolescent behavior that many students engage in. There are so many meaningful responses for this student’s non violent misbehavior like community service, second chances and kindness . Student are more likely to engage in acting out behavior when they feel behind in school and not engaged. It’s hard to engage when you can’t read proficiently and can’t do math proficiently.
    Now this special ed student, may have a record and is on probation for 6 months. If he does not live up to the probation terms he could face juvenile justice system. This is how many vulnerable students wind up going from the education system to the justice system. Neurodivergent students are arrested 3X more than their peers and make up 60%-85% of incarcerated youth.
    Neurodivergent students often have their needs not adequately met in our education system.. In SY high only 11% took the A-G’s required courses in high school needed to be eligible to apply to a 4 year university compared to 57% of white peers. 0% of students with differences completed one year of technical career pathways. Graduation rates for students with differences was an anemic 11%. The CAASP score show that only 9% of the 11th graders with differences are proficient in math and only 27% of 11th graders with learning differences are proficient in english….
    Had the board fully supported this student with community service or mentoring as well as addressing his academic needs they would be sending the message that students come first and that they will above all do no harm to students. Now the board just reinforces that students with differences are curriculum casualties, who get too little far too late and sadly often go from the education system to the justice system . The board missed an opportunity to be accountable for its part, failing to give a free and appropriate education and having their employee assault their student rather than implement a restorative approach for non violent adolescent behavior.

    • Isn’t the student now in the alternative school? Thus obtaining “a free and appropriate education.”
      I had a similar experience decades ago: when my mother and I toured La Cuesta we were both impressed with it. I’m sure I would’ve been happier there. I left at the beginning of 11th grade, worked for a year and then attended SBCC for 3 wonderful, joyful, productive years.
      I hope this kid can flourish even a little bit!

    • This student should never have been expelled, and now removed from his home school, his friends, familiar peers and teachers, for committing a minor offense that many (less targeted) students get away with daily. So now this learning disabled student is attending a continuation high school with unknown teachers and peers, some of whom are criminal delinquents. This is not an appropriate outcome.

  6. Steve O: I am thinking of what La Cuesta scores are like today. The data speaks for itself. Special ed students have the lowest scores because the system does not have a proactive culture, nor has it taught reading in the way these students learn best. If students are not proficient in reading by end of third grade they are 4x more likely to drop out. The system currently does not have a proactive culture but that is about to change with the Gov universal screening and more districts adopting the science of reading approach over the deeply flawed ‘ balanced literacy” approach. Once students get behind they are less engaged and act out.
    Upbringing is not a factor as much as poverty is. SB County has the second highest child poverty. So many of these parents can’t afford outside tutoring to help make up for not being taught well in school. Some districts who implemented universal screening, the structured literacy or science of reading approach and trained teacher were able to get to 90% proficiency by end of third.
    Students do sometimes make bad choices but that is not the root cause that is the end result of having given up and being frustrated and not knowing how to get what you need from a system that is failing you.
    Peabody Charter is a wonderful example of all students succeeding because they have implemented these changes two years ago and are using an evidenced based approach that they trained all their teachers in. Their 3rd grade class had 77% proficient in reading and math. If you look at only 3rd grade special ed 37% in reading and 45% in math which is considerable better than SY high 11th graders at 9% reading proficiently.

  7. I’m not defending Haws here, just noting that if (when) he takes legal action against the district they will probably have to settle.
    First, good luck on the corporal punishment angle. No where in the article does it say Haws administered an injection, or ordered an injection.
    From the article that wasn’t read: “Even after some time, Rubio remained so agitated — actively resisting and screaming at the top of his lungs — that paramedics were summoned. They monitored his vital signs and decided a sedative was needed. But after administering a dose of a medication called midazolam, Rubio’s heart was still racing, so they readied another syringe. ”
    Paramedics. Summoned. Vital signs. Decision by paramedics. Sedative. Heart still racing. Second dose.
    It is said elsewhere that Deputy Parker and the Haws character held Rubio down, but once the paramedics monitoring vital signs decide a sedative is needed per those vital signs the rule of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” comes into play and that sedative isn’t optional anymore. Doesn’t mean Haws, the adult, isn’t at least partially responsible for escalating rather than de-escalating the situation, but if the corporal punishment road is followed, you’d have to charge the deputy, the paramedics as well, and say they all should have gone against a medical opinion arrived at via monitoring of vital signs. Not going to happen unless there is more to the story and I guess there is not or they’d have fired him, not demoted him.
    From another person who did not read the article: ” Vaping seems like mildly delinquent adolescent behavior that many students engage in.” I agree but “burning marijuana” is not vaping. From the article; “It was just after second period on January 5 when Senior Deputy Joe Parker walked into the S-Wing boys’ bathroom and smelled burning marijuana. Present were Rubio and two other students. According to a narrative of the incident prepared by Parker and Vice Principal Peter Haws, Parker saw Rubio make a quick movement toward a stall and thought he was trying to discard something.”
    Side note on the broader topic of forcing people to be injected against their will.
    Requiring COVID vaccination of all teenagers who wish to attend public schools is not 100% science based. The vaccination does not completely stop transmission and does not completely stop infection. The vaccination lessens severity of symptoms in a cohort (Children) that is already in the lowest tier of severity. Children are the most likely group to test positive with no symptoms. A rational case for allowing nature to take its course in a healthy teen can be made by a parent in consultation with their doctor, but the state insists that the teen must have the needle and a foreign substance put into their blood stream.
    Teachers, staff and administration should be required to vaccinate for liability reasons or find another job. They are the ones in the cohort who need to be vaccinated to prevent severe illness, death.
    Full disclosure. Everyone in my family is vaccinated for COVID but if some of them had chosen not to COVID vaccinate their very healthy children in consultation with a doctor, I would not have had an issue with them over it. I do believe it is unwise to skip polio vaccine and a few others in children and would say so if it came up.

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