Resignation follows journalists’ investigation into ‘grooming,’ CRT controversy
Editor’s note: This is the fourth story in a series. This article originally appeared in the Daily Wire, which publishes its articles at dailywire.com. Luke Rosiak is an investigative journalist for The Daily Wire.
By LUKE ROSIAK
THE DAILY WIRE
Two top administrators at the Santa Barbara school system resigned shortly after a three-part Daily Wire series that exposed how a Communist-supporting “ethnic studies” teacher committed battery against a teenage girl in class and then continued to influence school policy even after his criminal conviction.
In the series, the victim — an illegal immigrant whom The Daily Wire referred to with the pseudonym of Maria because she is a minor and the victim of abuse — also alleged that Jennifer Freed, a “social emotional learning” guru, pressured her to drop the charges against the teacher, Matef Harmachis.
Ms. Freed denied the allegation, though she has boasted that she holds group sessions for schoolgirls in which she talks to them about sex. Mr. Harmachis was convicted of battery, but later called his victim a “Karen.”
Shawn Carey, the assistant superintendent for secondary education with the Santa Barbara Unified School District, announced her resignation only days after signing a contract extension. Her school district salary in 2019 was $207,000.
After leaving the school district, she will take a new position as director of school and district support for the county education office. A job ad matching that position says the salary tops out at about $141,000.
Chief information officer Brian Rowse also recently announced his departure.
A flood of departures by top officials at SBUSD, of which the two are the most recent, could be for a variety of reasons. The teachers union has blamed poor leadership by the superintendent. But Santa Barbara was also the site of educational scandals rivaling the famous ones in Loudoun County, Virginia, and it is in many ways where the battle over CRT began in 2017.
SBUSD required all students to take “ethnic studies” following a lobbying campaign during which Mr. Harmachis and Ms. Carey both served on an “Ethnic Studies Consortium.” After Maria sued the school system, alleging a pattern of “grooming,” SBUSD claimed it was “shocked” that he was still involved, even though Mr. Harmachis was highly visible at school board meetings and even in newspaper photos peddling “ethnic studies” to students.
A consortium “roster” that listed both Mr. Harmachis and Ms. Carey was created by Ms. Carey in 2020 after the disgraced teacher’s criminal conviction, according to metadata on the file.
Ms. Carey oversaw the Local Control and Accountability Plan fund, which the Santa Barbara Unified School District used to usher in a constellation of ideologue nonprofits into schools.
One fund, called Just Communities, at first drew in liberal families who expected that it would promote racial harmony. But some soon became alarmed, saying its methods promoted pessimism and instilled hopelessness in minorities instead.
Just Communities’ written curriculum asserts “public schools teach ‘skills’ that business owners find useful like competition, obedience and respect for authority,” and that “public schools create the illusion that everyone has an equal chance” and that “wealthy people and business shaped the schools to contain and control poor people,” according to a lawsuit.
SBUSD refused to show parents Just Communities’ curriculum, a lawsuit said. Just Communities hired Democratic super-lawyers Perkins Coie to fight the lawsuit aggressively.
Ms. Carey also recommended and the board approved that a group called the Association of Raza Educators (ARE Praxis) be awarded a contract for implementing ethnic studies. ARE says its mission is “to promote critical pedagogy as the principle (sic) means of addressing the question of how to teach our children.”
Critical pedagogy is the application of critical theory, as in critical race theory. The group’s leader on the contract work is Guadalupe Cardona, who says she is “a proud member of the socialist political organization, Union del Barrio.”
A district spokesman declined to comment to The Daily Wire.
“This is an incredibly challenging and divisive time to work in public education, as demonstrated by the droves of good people leaving the profession across the state and country,” board member Laura Capps told Noozhawk, which first reported the departures.
Before Mr. Harmachis was fired in 2020 — nearly three years after he was charged — he preached his militant beliefs to a captive audience of students in a classroom adorned with pictures of communist killers like Fidel Castro and Che Guevara. He took his adopted surname from the name of a god worshiped by an ancient Egyptian cult, and worked to exclude Jews from the status of oppressed people in California’s state-wide curriculum.
Before the incident that led to his criminal conviction — in which Maria says he grabbed her buttocks and bit her ear while making sexual statements — he had repeatedly been accused of other misconduct, including against a boy who enraged him by wearing a shirt related to Israel. But each time, instead of being fired, he was put on paid leave for years.
Luke Rosiak is an investigative journalist for the Daily Wire and the author of the book “Race To the Bottom: Uncovering the Secret Forces Destroying American Public Education.”