UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

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UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report
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Update by edhat staff
May 27, 2019

The Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) submitted their MAD Academy investigation report to the Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) less than one day after it was reported the Police had not received it.

On Saturday, it was reported (see below) the SBPD and District Attorney's (DA) Office had not received information on allegations of wrongdoing at the MAD Academy even though SBUSD Superintendent Cary Matsuoka stated their findings had been submitted to the authorities.

On Monday, Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers, reports within 24 hours of the SBPD and DA's stating they have not received information regarding the MAD Academy abuse claims, a private investigator’s report prepared for SBSUD was subsequently received by SBPD.

“The contents of the document will be reviewed by our Investigations Division,” SBPD Public Information Officer Anthony Wagner told Newsmakers, confirming the department received the report on Sunday.

A school board meeting will be held on Tuesday at 5:00 p.m. where board members will discuss the MAD Academy fallout in a closed session. Members of the public are allowed to offer comment on closed session agenda items only, before the board goes into the confidential portion of its deliberations. After they return for the open portion of the meeting, there is time allotted for public comment on that portion of the agenda, but no longer on closed session items, reports Roberts.

Police and DA State They're Not Involved in MAD Academy Allegations

By edhat staff
May 26, 2019

A new report claims the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD) has not turned over MAD Academy allegations to the Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) and District Attorney's (DA) Office, seeming to contradict the district's statement released on Friday.

According to Jerry Roberts of Newsmakers, the SBPD and the DA's office have not received a private investigator's report ordered by SBUSD investigating allegations of wrongdoing at the MAD Academy.

The SBUSD statement, written by Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, explained the district's communication with the SBPD and DA. It reads, "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... 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."

Matsuoka went on to state, "... 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." 

The complaint was in reference to an accusation against Pablo Sweeney, MAD's operations director, who resigned this past March during the investigation by the private investigator. Dan Williams, MAD's director, was placed on administrative leave in April, but was allowed to return to campus as "his presence on campus posed no risk to student safety," wrote Matsuoka. SBUSD then announced Williams, in his 40's, would retire on June 30. 

There has been no comment from Matsuoka and SBUSD on a video that surfaced appearing to show Williams allegedly hosting a party with students to involving what looks to be marijuana.

Roberts reports Santa Barbara County District Attorney Joyce Dudley stated she was contacted by the school district's attorney. “They wanted to turn their investigation over to SBPD. I referred them to SBPD,” said Dudley.

Santa Barbara Police Department Public Information Officer Anthony Wagner said to Roberts, “We are aware that the school district has conducted an internal personnel investigation... However, at this point they have not forwarded the matter to us for criminal review.”

In Roberts report, it makes clear the DA and SBPD were only contacted by SBUSD's attorney on Friday a few hours prior to Matsuoka's press release. The law firm, Griffith & Thornburgh, apparently informed these public agencies they had conducted an internal personnel investigation but did not provide the details of said investigation.

The next school board meeting is scheduled for a closed session on Tuesday, May 28, at 5:00 p.m. and the regular session begins at 6:30 p.m. at the SBUSD office at 720 Santa Barbara Street. The agenda can be found here.


 May 25, 2019: School District Releases Statement Following MAD Academy Fallout

 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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a-1558910442 May 26, 2019 03:40 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Unfortunately it appears to be more nefarious than “asleep at the wheel”. That press release was purposefully very very misleading. Folks should show up to the 6:30 regular meeting session on Tuesday to voice any concerns.

a-1558916526 May 26, 2019 05:22 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

How the parents chose to report it does not need to "add up" to us. They chose to report it to the school first likely thinking the school would do the right thing and that it would be less traumatic for their kids (one in MAD and one graduated). Inappropriate text and voice messages and screen shots from Sweeney's phone is clearly enough proof.

a-1558922232 May 26, 2019 06:57 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Yes, but a YEAR later ... isn’t that the case? Seems a little odd to me. I get why they want Sweeney gone, but I can’t see how Williams was any more lax than the parents in this case ...

a-1558924226 May 26, 2019 07:30 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Williams had the LEGAL obligation to report this and he knew it! Student and parents have no such obligation. His position at MAD Academy would have required he had training on what to do when a student comes forward. HE broke the law in this situation. And we don't KNOW when this student actually told his parents. It sounded to me like he told Dan Williams first and then waited a bit possibly in confusion or wanting to believe what Dan told him. It's not easy to come forward with this type of thing. So yes, maybe they didn't report it as they could/should have but that does NOT negate the situation or make it less true.

Factotum May 26, 2019 08:43 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

District employee Williams did report this claim and district immediately initiated an investigation. Termination and settlements followed for district and non-district employees. Did parents or student request law enforcement not be further involved?

a-1558975505 May 27, 2019 09:45 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

FACTOTUM- you have an ironic handle since you don’t seem to grasp the facts. Williams DID NOT REPORT this after the student came forward in 2018. In FACT he made up an outrageous excuse about the mudslide causing crossed wires. Months (almost a year?) later the student went directly to the principal when it was clear Williams had not done so. Read the original timeline again. You seem confused.

Pebblehill May 27, 2019 03:30 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

FACTOTUM- Williams NEVER REPORTED this! Just read the damn story!! He told this kid it was a mistake due to crossed wires with the phone co during the mudslide and that the text got to him accidentally!!

a-1558998557 May 27, 2019 04:09 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

FACTOTUM- since you don’t appear to have read up on the facts here it is right from the news report:
“Two parents have told the school board that in January 2018, their son informed Williams of his concerns about what they described as Sweeney’s alleged “predation,” which they said was directed at the boy because of his sexual orientation. They complained that Williams allegedly rebuffed the complaint instead of reporting it up the chain of command as a “mandated reporter.”

Pebblehill May 27, 2019 03:58 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Williams had a mandatory legal obligation under the law. He did nothing therefore he broke the law. Parents don’t have any such legal obligation. They likely reported it when they eventually found out.

Factotum May 26, 2019 08:40 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

(1) Student Jan 2018-report made to district employee Williams; (2) District immediately investigates; (3) Targeted non district employee terminated; (4) Settlement reached with district employee Williams who retires at end of term. (5) Student's parents initiated no further law enforcement action taken against targeted non-district employee. (6) School district employee not charged with sexual harassment or crime; therefore what is the reporting requirement by the district?

Fitness1 May 27, 2019 01:57 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Factotum, the school district is required by law to immediately inform law enforcement when an accusation of misconduct is brought to them. Instead of reporting Sweeney to police and allowing them to investigate, as the law requires, SBUSD kept it quiet, hired a PI, and then allowed Sweeney to simply be banned from campus. It sounds as if the parents were unaware of the texts Sweeney sent until much later. The school district broke the law by not contacting LE immediately (within 48 hours) upon learning that Sweeney had improperly contacted a student. This is how child predators continue to get away with these things. Hopefully this will all get sorted out, but SBUSD is legally liable for breaking the law, and Sweeney (if guilty) should not be in a position to be around children.

ohyeah May 27, 2019 08:21 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

John Becchio was the principal. He would or should have known what was happening on his campus. Dan Williams, John Becchio and a year later Tiffany Carson are ALL mandated reporters and none of them reported to police within 48 hours. Betcha Williams told Becchio and half a million in MAD fundraising was too much to lose so no one called in the PD. Now law breaker Becchio is head of Human Resourses? A law breaker was promoted to Assistant Superintendent by Matsuoka?! What else was not reported? How many kids were hurt or afraid? And stop blaming the parents- they protected their kid. Maybe he only told them when he saw it happening to others?

salsipuedes May 27, 2019 11:30 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

John Becchio as HR director makes about as much sense as Matsuoka as superintendent with an inexperienced, unelected school board that sat on their hands as he dismantled so much of SBUSD. When school board members watch, silent and stone-faced, as members of the public plead through their tears for their help in protecting their children and providing a quality education, you know something is seriously wrong--and has been since his arrival that has devastated so many.

Factotum May 27, 2019 08:27 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Inherent folly engaging in public-private business relationships with public schools. Let this be a lesson. Often at cross-purposes, and subject to vastly different regulations and duties. While they can leverage investments, public control over private business activities can be the fatal flaw.

Thomas John May 27, 2019 01:02 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

But what about the article that says the Santa Barbara School District is #3 in the nation?


a-1559013057 May 27, 2019 08:10 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Thomas John: You trust a paid back alley ranking service that writes an article to promote its services? “Background Checks - Everything You Need to Know About Searching Online Background Checks and Criminal Records
Welcome to Background Checks.org - the only free online directory and portal dedicated to helping you find online public records and run an online background check. Start by using our state records below to find the information you need. “
SBUnified is ranked below 50% nationally despite being a highly funded District with some of the highest paid Administrators in the Country despite a small size District It’s student proficiency rates are below 50.% except at DPHS. You must like paying high property taxes to guarantee that 90% can NOT read at McKinley, or 87% can NOT read at Cleveland. Isn’t it great that only 38% can do math at SMHS and 62% can NOT perform at a 5th grade level but we gift them high school diplomas? Better still they’ll now get a PROMISED diploma at SBCC for showing up to be guaranteed auto transfer to UCSB which gifts every student a diploma for sticking it out on the liberal arts, non STEM half of the campus. Yep- trust those #3 rankings from a criminal investigation service. SBUnified may be ranked #3 for criminal activity, but definitely not for success stories or academic achievement. BTW- graduation rates are a joke. Everyone can graduate for the asking... we can’t have our statewide ranking lowered just because we didn’t hand out enough diplomas? Property owners might be miffed.. GET REAL SB!

Factotum May 27, 2019 08:37 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Parents are not relieved of any duty to protect their own children; regardless of how the district carried out their own interpretation of their legal duties. There seems to be a rush to judgement going on; a call to tar, feathers and pitchforks excoriating the district only. Not sure why. Does this incident carry the always ubiquitous taint of class envy and anti-elitism so often endemic in our local prejudices. Was this Academy seen as a privileged access group? Or is this incident conflating into a typical management-employee surrogate cat fight. Time for everyone to back off and wait for the process and facts to emerge, as best they can under the highly employee-protective ED Code provisions.

Alexblue May 27, 2019 12:05 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

You fool, the parents' responses are entirely irrelevant, they in no way relieve the administrators and teachers of their duties.

You also clearly have no idea as to the systemic incompetence and failures to adhere to their legal duties which plague the district. You do a lot of commenting, if you limited it to topics about which you have real world experience, you'd probably be quiet ninety percent of the time.

Pebblehill May 27, 2019 03:33 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

FACTOTUM- Not to be rude but you are out of touch. Teenagers don’t tell their parents jack about what goes on 99% of the time. This kid eventually told his parents at which point they stepped forward.

a-1558997662 May 27, 2019 03:54 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

You are conflating two separate issues. The SBUSD is entrusted with thousands of children on a daily basis. This is why there are laws put into place to prevent (unsuccessfully this time) educators like Williams from protecting their own and NOT reporting something.

Pebblehill May 27, 2019 05:35 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

The article actually does say Santa Barbara School District is #3. Probably not for long though. But factors they consider are: “The ranking was determined by assessing scholastic and financial metrics, including the student-to-teacher ratio, standardized test scores, teacher quality, graduation rate, and school funding for over 10,000 schools in the U.S.”

a-1559015939 May 27, 2019 08:58 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Really Pebble Hill? You quote a source without checking credentials? KEYT reporting is a known sloppy humorless joke, but you “heard it first on KEYzt”. There are more than 10,000 public schools in SoCal. Over 5,500 elementary schools. SBUnified is lucky to be in the lower middle of the pack thanks to bright students - both GATE and high achievers from feeder elementary districts- sticking with SBUnified District that’s top heavy with administrators and undervalues exceptional teachers at the secondary level. .

Pebblehill May 27, 2019 10:00 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

18266 - I am NOT questioning what the SB School District rating is or isn’t. I don’t watch or read anything to do with KEYT. Someone else shared a link to this story and I looked at it and found info on how they rated the school district so wanted to share it. Geeze!

CoastWatch May 27, 2019 05:31 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

The bottom line is Superintendent Matsuoka IS at the Helm, He must be held as accountable as the Big Toe of his principal's and Staff. If the Law Firm representing the District mis-advised, they too are culpable.

Yack and Rally May 27, 2019 08:33 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

This is at least somewhat of a positive sign. However, as always, the devil is in the details. Hopefully they include the audio recorded witness interviews and all digital data and materials provided to the PI. Let’s not forget this PI investigation was at the direction of the school district’s law firm which is tasked with minimizing any liability and exposure, not necessarily a search for the truth. Based on the foot dragging and dogged resistance shown these past 4 + months I don’t have a whole lot of faith in the veracity and completeness of this report. Time will tell.

It appears on the agenda that the Board is set to possibly dump Griffith and Thornburg at tomorrow’s meeting. Maybe “duck and cover” Matsuoka will try and throw the law firm under the bus to save his job? On the consent calendar is a line item to retain a statewide firm specializing in School Districts and Education law, Fagen Friedman for 2019-2020. They are a spin off of Lozano Smith and well known and respected in Education circles.

a-1559014906 May 27, 2019 08:41 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Yep! Superintendent Matsuoka must go for this incident of lying in writing plus many more failures. His politically correct handlers are giving him bad advice. No wonder he’s typically silent at school board meetings and let’s his two highly incompetent Assistants aka political warriors prove how worthless they both are in their positions . All Superintendent Matsuoka wants is job security to maintain his $324K annual windfall. He may have reported the MAD incident to DA Dudley who advised him to drop it. DA Joyce Dudley is the mother of 2 shared sons with a lead attorney at the conflicted SBUnified and SBCC law firm Griffith -Thornburgh. Oh — and don’t forget her brother-in-law was the former SBHS Principal, the under-qualified brother of her ex-husband G-T Lawyer. He was hired on the quick when Paul Trumbull had to be kicked upstairs ( some says following the Saks 5th State St back parking lot incident - who knows: he was under-qualified too but was Trustee Kate Parker’s neighbor.) It’s incestuous collusion and legal maneuvering. It’s juicy enough to sell the sequel to the soap opera Santa Barbara: The Lord Family pales compared to the Caprittos, Dudley & others at G-T. The plot thickens. Too bad innocent students are entangled.

Dan WIlliams is to be credited with starting and building an exemplary program giving countless students career paths and confidence. When the facts are known, may any questions regarding Dan Williams’ teaching skills, commitment to The MAD Academy, and his reputation be restored. It’s sad it’s come to this. Thanks Jerry Robert’s for your valued investigative reporting. Teachers and adults: you are mentors not student peers.

a-1559016149 May 27, 2019 09:02 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

You lost me after the Dan Williams reputation being restored bit. Regardless of the fact that he built this great academy, the truth seems to be that he used it for predatory purpose. I am the adult who is reporting first hand knowledge that Williams has been partying with his students for years. Relying on the magic that is SnapChat (videos get deleted after minutes of viewing) to protect him from being found out and the knowledge that this age group would never tell. The chicken has finally come home to roost.

a-1559019887 May 27, 2019 10:04 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Reply to 9:53 post- I have no idea what went on this past year at MAD. My info has to do with the 2016-2017 school years. It sounds like the problems at MAD will be gone after June 7 and you won’t have to worry about that issue at least.

a-1559068719 May 28, 2019 11:38 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Yup rumors of William’s party days w students date as far back as 2009. Was common knowledge. Parents of Class of 2012 kids often brought it up. Not sure if there were attempted follow ups back then.

a-1559069780 May 28, 2019 11:56 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Re: “rumors of Williams party days” - seems like it would not be that hard to corroborate all of these rumors with past parents and alums if the SBUSD of SBHS cared to find out. They do not appear to have attempted any such thing which would in no way violate any union employee laws or privacy. The plot continues to thicken.

ohyeah May 27, 2019 09:58 PM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

Jan '18 WILLIAMS-BROKE THE LAW mandated reporter- failed to report to law enforcement
Jan '18 BECCHIO-SBHS Principal- BROKE THE LAW-mandated reporter- failed to report to law enforcement
Jan'19 CARSON-AP SBHS- BROKE THE LAW- mandated reporter-failed to report to law enforcement
Jan'19 SIMMONS- current SBHS Principal, directly supervises AP Carson- BROKE THE LAW- mandated reporter- failed to report
Jan'19 BECCHIO- now SB Unified HR- BROKE THE LAW- mandated reporter- failed to report to law enforment
May '19 MATSUOKA- Superintendent- BROKE THE LAW- mandated reporter- failed to report to law enforcement

a-1559056480 May 28, 2019 08:14 AM
UPDATE: School District Turns Over MAD Academy Report

04:45 am: This was prior to PD receiving the report. Now they have the report, we will see if PD/DA take action. If not, we wait to see if families and their lawyers take action.


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