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Former San Marcos High School Principal Files Appeal After Court Ruling Against His Reinstatement

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Behrens was reassigned as a junior high school teacher. It came with a salary cut of over $50,000 per year. The school board approved the demotion during a 2018 school board meeting despite 300 community members coming out to support Behrens.

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - eTradeWire -- Ed Behrens, former principal of San Marcos High School (SMHS) in Santa Barbara, filed an appeal today after a Santa Barbara County Superior Court dismissed his lawsuit that contended he should get his job back since the Santa Barbara Unified School District Board wrongfully removed him from his principal position. (Edward Behrens vs. Santa Barbara Unified School District, et. al, Case No. 18CV02536, May 21, 2018, Superior Court of California, County of Santa Barbara)

Behrens, with a 27-year teaching career including principal at SMHS from 2011 until 2018, was summarily demoted soon after an online threat incident involving SMHS students. Behrens' lawsuit alleges that school district 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.

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"In deposition, Matsuoka admitted that strategic public statements he made about Ed were false," says Leila Noël, partner in the law firm Cappello & Noël, which is representing Behrens. "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. It came with a salary cut of over $50,000 per year. The school board approved the demotion during a March 13, 2018 school board meeting despite 300 community members coming out to support Behrens.

The complaint 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.

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Diane Rumbaugh
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Source: Cappello & Noel
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Filed Under: Legal

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