Early Sunday morning, Santa Barbara High Principal Elise Simmons sent a note to the school’s parents to update them on the ongoing investigation into the MAD Academy.
The note was verbatim a prepared statement from the Santa Barbara Unified School District and Superintendent Cary Matsuoka.
When reached on Sunday, Dr. Simmons declined further comment.
The district’s statement read:
“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 should 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 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.”
The Santa Barbara Police Department released this statement to the News-Press on Sunday:
“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.”
Anthony Wagner, the Police Department’s public information officer, said the department was contacted Friday by the district, although the department has not been presented with anything that rises to the level of a criminal investigation.
Mr. Wagner did state that if anyone does bring allegations to the police, the district has indicated it will make its investigation readily available to law enforcement.
There have been cries from the community for more transparency from the district and high school, including on May 14, when a number of parents spoke out at the school board meeting, concerned over past behavior by both Mr. Sweeney and Mr. Williams.
Since the meeting, two students have stepped forward with legal representation from sexual-abuse attorney John Manly of Irvine, who confirmed to the News-Press on Sunday that his services had been retained. Mr. Manly did not indicate what allegations, if any, his clients will be making.