By Janene Scully, Noozhawk North County Editor

The principal of Santa Ynez Valley Union High School was arrested last month on suspicion of driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the California Highway Patrol confirmed.

Mark Swanitz, 50, was taken into custody at 5:08 p.m. Oct. 21 after being involved in a traffic collision, CHP Officer Joel Asmussen told Noozhawk.

Swanitz was booked into Santa Barbara County Jail on charges of driving under the influence and driving under the influence with a blood alcohol content above .08 percent.

In the criminal complaint filed at Santa Barbara County Superior Court, Swanitz has been charged with misdemeanor driving under the influence of alcohol, and driving while having a blood alcohol content of 0.08 percent or higher.

Swanitz allegedly had a blood alcohol content of .12, the criminal complaint said. (A driver is presumed drunk under state law with a blood alcohol content of 0.08.)

He is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges at 8:30 a.m. Nov. 20 before Santa Maria Department 3 Judge Kay Kuns.

Swanitz declined to comment, saying it was a personal matter.


Swanitz has been principal at the Santa Ynez Valley high school since 2010 and graduated from the school with the class of 1985.

“Mr. Swanitz is an employee in very good standing and is highly regarded by the staff,” Superintendent Scott 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,” Cory added. “No one should drink and drive.”

Swanitz has not been placed on administrative leave.

Before leading Santa Ynez high school, Swanitz spent four years as principal of Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara.

— Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at