Schools & Education

UPDATED: Lawyer tells KSBW that SBHS superintendent appeared in court on gun charges on the day he resigned

Perales had been placed on leave by the Board of Trustees in December

San Benito High School Superintendent John Perales' resignation just under a month following the district's governing board unanimously voting to place him on leave pending an investigation in a closed-session meeting Dec.14 apparently happened on the same day that he appeared in court and pleaded not guilty to brandishing a firearm in Gilroy, according to a report by KSBW Channel 8. Perales is the second district administrator to resign after being placed on leave by the district, following Principal Todd Dearden in December 2015.

According to KSBW, Perales' attorney, Tyler Atkinson, said the alleged gun incident happened outside Perales' house on Greystone Court in Gilroy. From the KSBW report: "The neighborhood around Greystone Court had been hit by a rash of property thefts in early December. Perales was one of the theft victims, Atkinson said. So when Perales saw a car with suspicious-looking people inside, he confronted them while armed with his gun, according to neighbors."

Atkinson told the television station, "I expect Mr. Perales will be found innocent. He will miss the students and teachers, but looks forward to his next chapter in life."

Rumors have been swirling on social media about the alleged gun incident, but BenitoLink could not independently confirm the allegations with the Gilroy Police Department during inquiries last week.

Board President Steve Delay said on Friday following a closed-session meeting, “the board voted to accept the resignation of the superintendent and approve a resignation/release agreement.” Details of the agreement were not immediately available. School officials and Perales were not immediately available for comment following the Friday evening announcement.

"As this is a confidential personnel matter, no additional details can be provided at this time," Delay said in a prepared statement. "The Board has appointed Shawn Tennenbaum to the position of interim superintendent and is confident that the district's operations will continue efficiently and without interruption under his leadership."

Tennenbaum, who has been the district's human resources director since 2008, spent the previous five years in the SBHS special education department as a program specialist, resource specialist and compliance coordinator. Prior to that, he was a physical education teacher and head varsity football coach at Watsonville High School from 2000 to 2003,

While details of the Perales investigation have not been released due to employee confidentiality laws, the superintendent had been placed on administrative leave on Dec. 12. It has not been confirmed whether the alleged gun charges are related to the district's suspension of Perales.

The relationship between the superintendent and the district was not always smooth. In March 2016, trustees held a special meeting to discuss his future with the district. Teachers, staff and community members spoke in favor of Perales at that time, saying that while he was not perfect, he had improved the overall culture at the school. The board took no action at the meeting and Perales said he hoped to bring a resolution to the uncertainty surrounding his future with the district.

Perales was hired by the SBHS District in March 2014 after various teaching and administrative roles in the Gilroy Unified School District, including as founding principal of Christopher High School. 

Laura Romero

Laura Romero has been a reporter and handled marketing/social media for BenitoLink. She has covered education and city government. Formerly, she worked as an assistant account executive at Pembroke PR in San Francisco, where she assisted with press outreach, event coordination, and social media planning. With her PR skills, she has helped to implement social media strategies and develop online giving campaigns for BenitoLink. Laura continues to contribute to BenitoLink on a freelance basis.