Superintendent’s Dismissal Follows Allegations Of Bullying And Harassment

Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps has been dismissed by the Poway Unified School District board following allegations that she bullied and harassed members of the softball team at Del Norte High School a district campus during an after-season team banquet on May 30, 2023. The board voted unanimously to fire Phelps during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

Players, coaches, and parents allege that Phelps was upset that her daughter, who was named team MVP that evening, did not receive applause from her teammates, which Phelps deemed adequate. The perceived slight players prompted Phelps to launch an investigation and threaten to bar seniors from participating in their graduation ceremonies.

An unnamed minor student sued Phelps, the school district and the board in San Diego County Superior Court over the incident, alleging intentional and negligent infliction of emotional distress, negligence in properly training district employees, and a violation of her First Amendment rights.

The board’s decision to dismiss Phelps followed an investigation that began on Nov. 15 and concluded on April 18. In a statement read by President Michelle O’Connor-Ratcliff, the board said it “has lost all confidence and trust in Dr. Phelps’ ability to continue to serve as superintendent.”

“The investigation brought to light previous unknown evidence with witnesses with direct first-hand knowledge that contradicted Dr. Phelps’ statements and assertions to the board district staff and the public,” the board’s statement said. The board declined to comment further or provide additional information regarding the investigation since minors were involved.

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