Superintendent Fired For Allegedly Threatening Students Who Didn’t Clap For Her Daughter: REPORT

[Image Not From Story] REUTERS/Marco Bello

Julianna Frieman Contributor
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A school superintendent in California was reportedly fired Tuesday for allegedly threatening students who did not clap for her daughter at a sports event.

Former Poway Unified School District Superintendent Marian Kim Phelps was fired via school board vote following an investigation into her alleged graduation threats against her daughter’s Del Norte High School softball teammates, NBC News reported.

Phelps allegedly accused her daughter’s teammates of snubbing her by failing to clap loudly at a softball awards banquet in May 2023, NBC San Diego reported. The students alleged that Phelps texted them about her grievance late at night after the ceremony, accusing the former superintendent of threatening to prevent them from graduating in the absence of an apology to her daughter.

Phelps was reportedly ousted following a five-month-long investigation spanning from Nov. 15, 2023, to April 18, School Board President Michelle O’Connell-Ratcliffe said. The school board said it “lost all confidence and trust” in the former superintendent after various documents and 41 witness statements were assessed as part of the probe, according to NBC News.

Coach Tom Peronto brought Phelps’ alleged “abuse of power” to the attention of the school board at a meeting last year, NBC News reported. Phelps previously denied the allegations, according to NBC San Diego.

An anonymous lawsuit regarding a false bullying narrative between Phelps’ daughter and another softball player was filed against Phelps in San Diego County in November 2023, according to NBC News. The former superintendent allegedly “constructed a narrative falsely suggesting” that the unidentified teammate targeted her daughter as part of what Phelps perceived to be an “intense rivalry” between her and other student-athletes on the team. (RELATED: Missing Child Of Slack Co-Founder Discovered In Van With ‘Family Friend,’ Police Say)

The girl was allegedly prevented from participating in extracurricular activities by Phelps during her last year of high school, according to the lawsuit. The former superintendent allegedly limited the victim’s family to only one day to sign an “Other Means of Correction Contract” consenting to the student’s ban from the softball team, school dances, field trips, school clubs, activities and graduation, NBC News reported. Phelps denied the allegations when confronted by the family’s attorney, the lawsuit said.

“I never would. I’ve never talked to any student about making threats about them not graduating,” Phelps reportedly said. “All those accusations are completely false and fabricated.”

Despite Phelps’ denial of the unidentified student’s alleged treatment, the girl’s allegations initiated a Board of Education investigation in which more than 20 witnesses contradicted Phelps’ claims.