School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout title=
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout
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MAD Academy Building (Photo: MAD)

By edhat staff

The Santa Barbara Unified School District released a statement on Friday regarding the MAD Academy investigation and abuse claims.

The statement, written by Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, explained the district's communication with the Santa Barbara Police Department and District Attorney.

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 following an "amicable agreement" with the district.

In a secondary edhat report, many parents of Santa Barbara High School students commented on social media platforms and at a school board meeting alleging abuse by Pablo Sweeney, the recently resigned operations director. A video also surfaced of Williams allegedly hosting a party with students appearing to involve marijuana.

The full statement bt Matsuoka is below:

The district is taking every allegation related to the MAD Academy seriously, our investigation is on-going and we are in contact with the Santa Barbara Police Department and the District Attorney. Following first notification to a district administrator, we immediately commenced an investigation and took additional steps to ensure student safety.

The investigation is continuing and we have reported our activities to the Santa Barbara Police Department and the District Attorney, and offered to work with them to the fullest degree possible.

Our ability to share information with others has been restricted due to the requirements imposed on confidential personnel investigations. That limitation should in no way be interpreted as a lack of concern or attention to student safety.

I encourage anyone with additional information to either contact me, use the confidential STOPIt app located on the SBHS website, or call the Santa Barbara Police Department at 805-882-8900.

The following is what we can share at this time:

  • Immediately after a student complaint was communicated to district officials in January 2019, the district’s legal counsel engaged Public Interest Investigations, Inc. in Los Angeles, to investigate.
  • During the investigation, Academy staff member, Pablo Sweeney, resigned. MAD Academy Director, Dan Williams, reached an agreement with the district to retire and his last day of work will be June 7, 2019. The agreement with Mr. Williams did not involve any payout of money. Mr. Williams returned to work after a brief paid leave following a determination that his presence on campus posed no risk to student safety.


​ May 26, 2019: Police and DA State They're Not Involved in MAD Academy Allegations


 May 23, 2019: Victims Retain Top Sex Abuse Law Firm in MAD Academy Scandal

 May 16, 2019: More Claims of Misconduct at MAD Academy

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

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Yack and Rally May 25, 2019 07:15 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

Let me get this straight...

According to the press release on Friday the District admitted it got a specific detailed report of sexual misconduct in JANUARY 2019. It apparently went to the highest levels in the District who then reported it to their attorneys. Yet their legal counsel hires a PI firm to investigate and not report to the police as a Mandatory Reporter in 48 hours per the Penal Code?! The glaring material omission in Matsuoka’s statement is the report to the DA and police only came in the LAST TWO WEEKS.

The Board needs to fire its legal counsel ASAP and report them to the State Bar ( They need to follow that up by cleaning house starting with the direct line in this gross misconduct. Matsuoka, Becchio, and Simmons need to be shown the door. If they don’t, a Board recall campaign of the three current board members that renewed Matsuoka’s contract is in order.

Now, a press release 11 days after the School Board gets a detailed description of the abuse and targeting of their son based on his sexual orientation by Pablo Sweeney, the description of attempts to tell Dan Williams, a mandatory reporter who shrugs it off as a problem with the phone lines after the mudslides. (Mind you I nor anyone I know got unsolicited genetilia pictures after the mudslides). Four months after the report, Supt. Matsuoka now has the gall to announce victims should come to him or report to the Stopit app? Matsuoka and his minions like John Becchio and Elise Simmons have shown that they are the LAST place to turn to. Matsuoka buried his head on this and only came forward because of the barrage of media coverage and brave parents willing to share their story publicly to the board.

Victims of sexual or other abuse, go to the police or better yet someone like John Manly’s law firm that wont bury it like the District’s legal counsel, their PI’s, “amicable agreements,” or HR Director John Becchio, who looked the other way for years and is beholden to MAD donors that allegedly whisk him around in their private jets and curry special favors.

Finally, how much more “investigation” does this PI need?? They have a trove of digital data turned over by the Sherman’s and a video of Dan’s raucous “Yack and Rally” bong, pot, and puke gathering. The “investigation” is just a stall tactic to burn up the statue of limitations as well as simply become moot once Dan William’s “retires” June 7th.

Watchdog May 26, 2019 07:35 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

Actually. Turns out it’s another big Matsuoka/SBUSD lie. The SB Police Department denies getting a formal complaint.

Pebblehill May 26, 2019 07:57 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

This whole situation is being whitewashed and it’s really disturbing. SBUSD clearly dropped the ball and is now trying to kick it across the field. Letting Williams go back to his job, even for less than a month just to avoid an all out scandal by firing him, which is minimally what should have happened, and then not turning Sweeney in to the cops but instead hiring an LA firm to investigate I call BS on. No union or school district/employee policy requires them to keep the law out of the picture. Public maybe but not the law. It sounds like Matsuoka is trying to placate the public outrage by saying the police and DA have been contacted but when was that exactly? Last week? Why don’t the kids come first? Shame shame shame!

Geologist May 26, 2019 03:09 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

I don't think they are trying to avoid a scandal; I think they are trying to avoid a fat lawsuit. Their lawyer must be telling them that if they acknowledge guilt on the part of Williams, they (the district) will be the "deep pocket," since he is technically their employee. Meanwhile, the man's presence on campus makes some students VERY uncomfortable. Like you said, why don't the kids come first? Isn't that the whole point of the mandatory reporting law? At the end of the day, this is a school, and the purpose of a school is to teach and protect kids. That is getting lost here. And I don't see how minimizing what happened provides them legal cover in the end anyway. It's messed up.

a-1558921786 May 26, 2019 06:49 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

GEOLOGIST: How ironic that in trying to avoid a lawsuit they may have created grounds for one. All of these faculty and staff take harassment training and are all aware, particularly Williams that he HAS to turn in ANY information, whether deemed true or not, the very moment that it is reported to him to the school at the very least. THAT is the law and he damn well knew that after all of these years. Not to mention his contributing to the delinquency of minors. I looked this up and most teachers get arrested on the spot once this kind of thing comes to light. They don't get to explain it away in multiple false explanations made by students he is in contact with.

Pebblehill May 26, 2019 08:06 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

According to the SBPD and the DA’s office SBUSD contacted them this past Friday JUST before Matsuoka released the statement. Neither of them is investigating this situation. Nor has the district supplied them with info from the firm hired to investigate. I suggest anyone with an interest should attend their Tue 5pm meeting and demand answers.

Shasta Guy May 26, 2019 10:32 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

My son was accepted into the MAD academy at the start of the 2018 school year, and now I am very thankful that he chose a different school. I feel so sorry for all the affected students and parents. I hope there is complete justice in this whole situation from bottom to top.

a-1558894783 May 26, 2019 11:19 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

Time for Matsuoka to resign, we need REAL leadership. This is much worse than what Ed Behrens did or didn't do for student safety and informing of parents. It would be hypocritical for him to stay. Very disappointing to learn about all these half-truths and lack of appropriate action at the top level.

Factotum May 26, 2019 03:50 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

Maybe the district needs new lawyers advising them on ED Code and federal reporting matters instead. Was this just incompetent legal advice or like many similar incidents, there less than meets the eye going on here.

ohyeah May 26, 2019 12:49 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

Mandated Reporters have 48 hrs legally to report after they are informed of the incident... but it wasn't reported at all until now? And wouldn't have been except for the Shermans screen shots. Wouldn't any school principal, their assistant principals, and a past principal now heading Human Resources know the law? They would, they did, and they buried it. Time to look at what else they buried and put people in charge who can be trusted to keep students safe. If you saw the video- it does not show Williams partying with students. It shows him cleaning up vomit? Scapegoat?

a-1558911982 May 26, 2019 04:06 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

OHYEAH- you think Williams is a scapegoat? I can tell you for a FACT that he partied with his students on multiple occasions in SB and else where. Getting the various students who informed me of this on several occasions to come forward will be difficult because for obvious reasons they still think he’s “cool”. I am working on it. Letting Williams go back to school where he had the opportunity to get the stories straight on all of this didn’t help. In addition, he not just encouraged it, but he drank with under age (16) boys in Costa Rica telling them the legal drinking age there is 16. It’s no wonder that Williams has purportedly has purchased (or plans to) a house, a grocery store and a bar in Tamarindo, Costa Rica and invited Mad Academy students (and alums) to come visit. SBUSD needs to be digging deeper.

ohyeah May 27, 2019 08:39 AM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

The investigation was of the VIDEO. It doesn't show Williams drinking or partying with students- therefore he was allowed back on campus. The Sherman information broke AFTER that and now there are new charges. Don't know a thing about drinking in Costa Rica but sounds like you do so tell your story to the people who are investigating. If you knew, so did administration.

a-1559018610 May 27, 2019 09:43 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

The only reason I know is because the student who is a family friend told me in passing not as info he wanted to turn in. In fact he thought the whole thing was cool! How could I have turned this info in if the student is not willing to corroborate or have anything to do with it? In fact he still considers Dan a friend. So yes that’s how this kind of thing has remained hidden for so many years.

a-1558911317 May 26, 2019 03:55 PM
School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

PSTARSR- you may not understand this but a lot of what the SBUSD is doing now is based on public comments on Edhat among other places. What you call armchair quarterbacking is actually serving to keep the school district aware they cannot run, hide, or sweep this under the carpet any longer. People are paying attention.

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