CA superintendent placed on leave after allegations of harassment towards softball team

February 5, 2024 / Athletic AdministrationCoachingSoftball
A California superintendent was placed on leave last week—nearly a year after she allegedly bullied members of a girls’ high school softball team for not applauding loud enough for her daughter during a ceremony.

The Poway Unified School District placed superintendent, Dr. Marian Kim Phelps, on administrative leave following a months-long investigation into the harassment allegations of the incident.

superintendentAccording to a lawsuit first obtained by NBC San Diego, Phelps and her daughter “J.P.” became upset when the varsity softball player received the team’s MVP award and didn’t receive loud enough applause compared to other players who received awards during a team banquet last spring.

A recent story from The New York Post detailed the lawsuit involving the California superintendent. Below is an excerpt from The New York Post article.

The 93-page suit was filed on Nov. 27, by “Jane Doe,” an unnamed Del Norte softball pitcher, and her father against the school district, Phelps, and other school district employees claiming violation of their freedom of speech, along with emotional distress, harassment and more.

Phelps is accused of beginning her “investigation” the night of the banquet by texting and calling a senior varsity member, who was a minor at the time, without permission, with the intent to interrogate her.

The superintendent later allegedly threatened all the senior student-athletes that they’d face not participating in graduation if they didn’t admit to not clapping.

“[Phelps] made threats aimed at the entire senior softball group that either they admit that they orchestrated a conspiracy to not clap for J.P. at the softball banquet or that [she] would ensure that none of the senior softball players would be allowed to walk at graduation.

The school district launched an independent investigation into the allegations on Nov. 15.

“We have reached a sensitive point in the investigation and received information regarding the impact of this process,” read a statement from the school district. “In an effort to avoid distraction and to ensure continued focus on the District’s business and commitment to serving our students and community, the Board is placing the Superintendent on paid administrative leave, effective immediately.

The superintendent had allegedly “constructed a narrative falsely suggesting” the player had bullied her daughter as the two varsity softball students were both competing for the pitcher position on the varsity team.

“We are informed and believe that [Phelps’] aggressive behavior is rooted in what she unilaterally perceives to be an intense rivalry between her daughter, J.P., and one of the team’s other pitchers, the lawsuit read.

To read the full story from The New York Post about the California superintendent, click here.