Students Allege Superintendent Threatened To Ban Them From Graduation Over Insufficient Applause For Daughter

Students at Del Norte High School a campus in the Poway Unified School District have alleged that superintendent Marian Kim Phelps threatened to ban them from graduation ceremonies for not applauding her daughter adequately at a sports banquet. The allegations led to Phelps’ dismissal by the district board on Tuesday.

Players coaches and parents allege that Phelps bullied and harassed members of the softball team during an after-season team banquet on May 30, 2023. Phelps players alleged was upset that her daughter who was named team MVP that evening did not receive applause from her teammates Phelps deemed adequate.

The perceived slight players alleged prompted Phelps to launch an investigation and threaten to bar seniors from participating in their graduation ceremonies. An unnamed minor student sued Phelps the high school school district and the board in San Diego County Superior Court over the incident.

The board voted unanimously to fire Phelps during a closed-door meeting on Tuesday. 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 decision followed a board-launched investigation into Phelps’ actions that began on Nov. 15 and concluded on April 18. 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,” according to the board’s statement.

The board declined to comment further or provide additional information regarding the investigation since minors were involved.