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Mark Swanitz


The principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School was arrested in October on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol, according to a report released this week by the California Highway Patrol.

Mark Swanitz was arrested on suspicion of DUI and driving with a blood alcohol content in excess of 0.08 percent — the legal limit — and booked into Santa Barbara County Jail following a minor traffic collision caused by another driver, according to the CHP report.

The report was released Monday afternoon shortly after an anonymous tip about his arrest was received by mail at the Santa Ynez Valley News. The tip apparently came from someone with connections to the high school, as it arrived in an SYVUHS envelope.

According to the CHP report, the crash occurred about 4:20 p.m. as the 51-year-old Swanitz was driving a 2004 Chevrolet westbound on Highway 246 — apparently en route to participate in the Real Men Cook fundraiser for Arts Outreach set for 6 p.m. at Flag Is Up Farms.

Rafael Ramos, 45, of San Juan, Puerto Rico, had stopped his 2017 Hyundai facing a northerly direction in a driveway west of Skytt Mesa Drive and began to slowly accelerate and turn left, the CHP report said.

Ramos failed to see Swanitz’s vehicle approaching on his left side and made an unsafe turn directly into the path of the Chevrolet, causing a noninjury collision, according to the CHP report.

However, during the crash investigation, the CHP determined Swanitz was under the influence of alcohol, and he was subsequently arrested, the report said. There was no indication of whether Ramos was cited.

Swanitz later met with the school faculty regarding the incident and is continuing to actively serve in his position, said Scott Cory, superintendent of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District.

“Mr. Swanitz is an employee in very good standing and is highly regarded by the staff,” Cory said. “This incident has no connection to his employment in any way. He is alleged to have made a bad mistake and is now paying the price for it. No one should drink and drive.”

Swanitz has been principal for eight years at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School, where he graduated with the class of 1985 before leaving to attend college after being raised in the Valley for 19 years.

He spent four years as principal of Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara before taking the job at SYVUHS.

His father, Jerry Swanitz, is a member of the SYVUHS District Board of Education.

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