The principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School has skirted jail time and, at least for now, kept his job despite pleading no contest to DUI. [KSBY]
Last October, Mark Swanitz was driving on Highway 246 west of Skytt Mesa Drive when he collided with a 45-year-old man from Puerto Rico. The Puerto Rico man pulled out of a driveway and turned directly into Swanitz’s path, according to the CHP. Nonetheless, officers arrested Swanitz for DUI.
Swanitz recently reached a plea deal with Santa Barbara County prosecutors in which he received three years of probation. If Swanitz complete his probation, he will avoid spending 60 days in jail.
According to the district attorney’s office, Swanitz’s probation requires him to obey all laws, take a bodily fluid test upon demand and pay a $1,690 fine. Swanitz is prohibited from consuming any alcohol for one year and from entering bars and liquor stores. Likewise, he cannot drive without a valid license and insurance.
In addition to the probation rules, the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District has imposed a set of conditions upon Swanitz that he must meet in order to keep his job.
Swanitz must complete 40 hours of community service with People Helping People and donate 10 days of net pay to the Santa Ynez High School PTSA’s Sober Grad Committee. Prior to Prom 2018, he must meet with all senior students, share the incident with them and advise against drinking and driving.
Furthermore, Swanitz must complete a 20-hour district-approved alcohol rehab program, which he must pay for himself. He must also work with the CHP to schedule “Every 15 Minutes” for the earliest possible date and attempt to include his own story in the opening assembly.
The school district released a statement explaining its decision.
“Last fall, Mr. Swanitz made a very negatively impactful decision to drink and drive. It is an indefensible and inexcusable decision. Educational leaders in particular should be held to a very high standard and model good behavior at all times, whether on or off the job. The SYVUHSD Board of Education knows Mr. Swanizt’s actions are in no way acceptable and this incident sends exactly the opposite message we want to convey as a school district regarding drinking and driving.”