Paul Wellman (file)
Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Parents and students are demanding more information in the ongoing investigation of a handful of male students at San Marcos High School connected to private video and chat-room threats against female students in January. According to a statement released by PODER S.B. (People Organizing for the Defense and Equal Rights of Santa Barbara youth), a social justice group protesting Santa Barbara Unified School District’s reluctance to provide more detail about the case, one of the four suspected teenagers appears in an instructional video on how to load a musket and shoot “a thot,” a derogatory term. “And he’s wishing luck to others who wanted to kill people in that way,” said PODER’s Candice Perez, who said she saw the video. Also, a private chat room featured a “list of thots that need to be eradicated,” she said. The list included “at least 16” students from San Marcos and Santa Barbara high schools, “mostly female,” she added. “Students and parents feel they haven’t gotten enough information. [We want to] send a clear message to the district that they need to be transparent.”
Bound by federal law, the district “can’t speak to any disciplinary action,” said Lauren Bianchi Klemann, the district’s public information officer. “And that’s been a big issue with parents.” She stressed that law enforcement had determined “there was no immediate threat to students or to staff, and it’s an ongoing investigation.”
“Parents of students named in the chat room were immediately contacted by the school administration to communicate actions taken in conjunction with the Sheriff’s Office,” according to a statement from the district. “[We take] seriously any derogatory or threatening statements to students. Student perpetrators are being disciplined under the authority of the California Education Code and Board of Education Policy.”
Superintendent Cary Matsuoka has issued an apology to the students and parents of San Marcos, Santa Barbara, and Dos Pueblos high schools, and La Colina Junior High. He has called a town hall meeting for 7 p.m. on February 5 at San Marcos.