According to district spokesman Ed Zuchelli, Dupont was placed on administrative leave but has since returned after an investigation.
“While addressing a racial slur that was allegedly used by students, the principal brought the alleged parties to his office,” the District said in a statement. “During the course of this conversation, the principal repeated the word that had been allegedly used by the students in an attempt to explain why it cannot be used.”
The District said Dupont’s use of the word “did not respond in accordance with our guidelines.”
“As a result of the investigation, multiple remedial measures were taken, which we cannot detail because of personnel privacy requirements.”
The district released a statement that Dupont sent out to the Santa Barbara Junior High School shortly after the Oct. 25 incident.
“My response to a recent student verbal incident was problematic,” Dupont said. “Due to that response, I was placed on administrative leave while the incident was under review. While on leave, I had the opportunity to reflect and engage in professional learning to be more thoughtful and make needed adjustments. I have since returned to work and am striving to put into action the important lessons I have learned.
“My goal as your principal is to always be a role model for our students, families and staff. Unfortunately, I did not live up to that standard with some of my own actions recently.”
Simone Akila Ruskamp, co-founder of Healing Justice Santa Barbara, with Leticia Forney Resch and Krystle Farmer Sieghart, said Santa Barbara Unified has ignored Black families.
“We are disappointed that SBJH was not transparent about this anti-Black harm or the environment that allowed this to happen, especially after all the promises they made after the violent assaults against several Black students in February,” Ruskamp said. “Further, the district has consistently ignored the urgent calls of Black parents and families. They have yet to publish the equity survey (that was promised in February) and Black students continue to suffer.”
The district would not provide any further details, and Zuchelli said Superintendent Hilda Maldonado was unavailable for comment this week because she is on vacation.
School board president Rose Munoz also did not bring any clarity to the situation.
“It is of much importance that we have an inclusive learning environment for our students and support for our parents,” Munoz said. “Addressing racial incidents that occur and providing appropriate training to staff is needed in order to take a proactive approach. The conversations need to continue in order for us to move forward as a district.”
The incident comes after a Santa Barbara Junior High School student was called the “N-word” at school in February. In order to spark action, the parents took the issue public at a board meeting. Later that night, the district’s spokesman issued a statement that an “alleged hate crime and racial slur” was used; the public statement was six days after the incident. According to witnesses, three students held the boy down, and a fourth put a knee on the victim’s head and yelled “George Floyd.”
The principal at the time, Arielle Curry, is now the principal at Washington Elementary School.
Dupont was hired in June to replace Curry after serving as an assistant principal at Santa Barbara High School since 2019.
The district’s spokesman at the time, Nick Masuda, put out a flowery press release touting Dupont’s background.
“His experience includes overseeing standardized testing; instituting the Seal of Biliteracy districtwide; coordinating the 504 process; overseeing dual enrollment; developing the master schedule; coordinating professional development time; evaluating both certificated and classified staff; and producing detailed reports,” the statement said.