Emails expose SLO High School’s failure to protect students

September 19, 2023

Jeff Brandow


Emails and letters pull back the curtain on San Luis Obispo High School’s response to allegations of sexual misconduct against history teacher and head basketball coach Jeff Brandow, findings that expose multiple inconsistencies.

After receiving allegations of sexual misconduct with a student, school officials launched an investigation in Oct. 2022, but allowed Brandow to continue teaching and coaching students for five more months. After receiving what they called “real proof,” school officials put Brandow on paid leave in March.

Following a 10-month investigation, the San Luis Obsipo Unified School District Board voted to put Brandow on permanent unpaid leave on Aug. 15.

Brandow outed during teenage soiree

Laughing and jumping, a group of teens passed around an underage student’s phone and read off several texts Brandow allegedly sent about getting together and bringing beer, according to a video from the party. One teen says, “Yo, he is getting fired.” Another student says, “He is going to prison.”

Teens reading Jeff Brandow’s texts

A tipster then sent school administrators an anonymous report which included the student’s last name. CalCoastNews is referring to the student as Jane to protect her privacy.

“It has been brought to my attention that Jeff Brandow has been engaging in inappropriate communications with female students,” the tipster wrote. “One possible last name of student is ….”

Shortly after administrators received the anonymous tip, a student reported that she heard that a teacher was sending inappropriate texts to students.

Principal Rollin Dickinson and Assistant Principal Desiree Dellinger interviewed Jane about the alleged misconduct in mid-October, but did not inform her parents.

Following the interview, Brandow allegedly took Jane’s phone, changed his contact name to an alias and deleted text messages.

Jane, who suffered a panic attack, told her sister about Brandow and the interview including that the school was aware of inappropriate comments made during class and had asked her not to tell anyone. The sister told their parents, who voiced their concerns to campus administrators.

Jane’s parents demand the school take the allegations seriously

On Oct. 19, Dickinson sent Jane’s mother an email that said he was taking the allegations seriously including the comments about Jane’s looks.

Jane described Brandow’s comments about her outfits, like “boobs out” or “ass out,” Dickinson wrote in his email.

“I asked if her was making a comment about dress code and trying to do it in a friendly way,” Dickinson wrote. “(Jane) shared names of people who may have witnessed those or similar comments.”

While Jane described some of Brandow’s actions as weird or inappropriate, Dickinson said they would need to conduct a thorough investigation to determine if any school policies had been violated.

“(Jane) did not report anything about a sexual relationship, naked pictures sent, or rumors about those matters,” Dickinson said in his email. “That said, it is evident that Jane is a former student of Mr. Brandow’s, is a current employee of Mr. Brandow’s, and has been texting with Mr. Brandow.”

Dickinson argued that while Dellinger had asked Jane not to tell her peers about the situation, the assistant principal did not say she should not tell her parents.

“I also want to reiterate that we have not received a report or heard rumors about a sexual relationship or about naked pictures being sent,” according to Dickinson’s email. “Based on the information and rumors you shared, I will discuss this immediately with our human resources director to determine our next steps.”

Five days later, on Oct. 24, San Luis Coastal Unified School District Director of Human Resources Dan Block sent a letter informing Jane’s parents that the district was investigating Brandow and that they would no longer interview Jane without informing them first.

Block also asked Jane’s parents to try to retrieve the teen’s deleted text messages with Brandow.

However, according to Jane, Dellinger had taken her phone during the interview and took pictures of text messages.

Despite a 2014 written complaint from a consultant regarding Brandow’s sexual misconduct, a 2018 restraining order given to a KSBY reporter who Brandow harassed and stalked, photos of some of the text messages to Jane, and a more recent complaint from a trainer who said he would not let her have her stipend unless she went out with him, district officials said they did not have enough evidence to place Brandow on leave.

Brandow was not put on paid administrative leave until March.

This delay permitted Brandow to remain coach of the varsity basketball team, which he guided to the league championship. The league then named him Coach of the Year.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District Superintendent Eric Prater claims the district did not have enough evidence to put Brandow on leave until March.

“There have been a lot of rumors that we waited until the basketball season was over, but we didn’t have the texts until then,” Prater said, according to Expressions, the high school paper. “If we’d had the real proof, he would have been ejected from campus immediately. As soon as we had real proof, he was removed from campus that afternoon.”

Dickinson parroted Prater, saying they needed adequate corroboration before they could place Brandow on paid leave.

“We cannot simply act on allegations that lack corroboration,” Dickenson says in the Sept. 4 Expressions article. “As soon as we have adequate corroboration, the district is able to act more swiftly. With that being said, we will always strive to do the right thing for our students.”

Rather than directly terminating Brandow, on Aug. 15 the district board elected to place the coach on permanent leave. Brandow had 30 days to appeal the board’s decision.

District officials have not responded to CalCoastNews’ questions regarding Brandow’s appeal or possible termination.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District staff is recommending trustees vote to approve their recommendation regarding possible termination or discipline of an unnamed employee, according to the Sept. 19 agenda.

If you have further information about Jeff Brandow or these incidents please contact reporter Karen Velie at (805) 234-1703.

Sign up for breaking news, alerts and updates with Cal Coast News Top Stories.


Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

There should be a different news media for this type of news. It should be titled, “Compost Files”. I know, innocent until proven guilty.

I remember when I attended school Laguna Jr. High and SLOSH back in the day, the worst thing teachers did was smell like cigarette smoke. Breath and clothing. :o/

That’s because there used to be a day when bad teachers were fired quickly, no months long paid vacation, their bad actions followed them preventing them from getting a new job in a different district, and there was no cover-up by the administration.

Look, we won league in basketball. When’s the last time SLO High accomplished that? And isn’t that what’s most important?

Speaking of, anybody know why SLO football had to forfeit it’s game against Nipomo?

Is there a double standard here? Paid vacation for teachers accused of sexual misconduct. Firing and/or jail for every one else.

Remember this the next time the school district wants another bond measure passed and is crying for more money.

So, because administrators are incompetent and should be fired in this instance, we should deny the students and good teachers money for facilities, learning materials and sports equipment? Bond issues do not pay salaries. They generally go for new buildings, renovations and things like books, binders, paper, athletic needs, classroom needs, etc.

So you say we should just give more of our money to these incompetent administrators in hopes they use it where it is needed? Yeah right that will happen. How about a compromise, first fire all the incompetent administrators and then we can talk about handing over more money? Bonds may not pay salaries but we all know the game, a bond passes for a particular item and so these administrators just cut the previous budget for that item and redirect that money to compensation. Schools do it just like the government does, pass a new sales taxes for roads of safety and they just cut the previous budgets for those items, redirect that money to compensation increases.

School money comes from property taxes. With the sky high cost of realty in SLO, I’m betting the tax bundle is fairly significant.

While bonds do not pay salaries, they certainly have not gone to better learning materials, nor classrooms and classes that mean something for the knowledge our kids need to use in the future.

Yes, I know they have rebuilt and remodeled SLO High considerably. But for what? Did they bring back a fabulous Home-Ec classroom or building? No, but they do have a pre-school learning center…which would seem to go hand in hand with Home-Ec. Did they expand the Art classes? No. Did they revive the Wood shop? Metal shop? Automotive shop? Built a better Agriculture department? No, no, no, and no.

Ever notice teachers never go on strike, for more schools supplies and books?

While bonds do not pay salaries, they certainly have not gone to better learning materials, nor classrooms and classes that mean something for the knowledge our kids need to use in the future.”

Yep, amazing how screwed up San Luis High is, yet it still ranks among the top schools in California for high SAT scores. High scores mean more students go to college. Students who have a college degree make, on average, 65% more a week in salary than those with a simple high school diploma who might have taken jobs in cooking, wood working, metal working or auto repair.,individuals%20with%20a%20college%20degree.