Poway Student Says She Was Targeted by the Superintendent for Failing to Give Her Daughter Applause

A lawsuit filed by a Del Norte High School softball player alleges Poway Superintendent Marian Phelps launched a campaign of retribution after players failed to clap her for her daughter at a May softball banquet. The alleged reprisal went so far that the student was informed she could no longer participate in school sports and would be barred from commencement activities.

The plaintiff, Jane Doe, has provided text messages that show Superintendent Phelps contacted one of the players late at night to discuss the lack of applause for her daughter. Although the student was apologetic, Phelps said the administration would have to “follow up on our end from an administrative standpoint." The lawsuit alleges Phelps ordered an investigation into the players by school administrators.

After the review, Del Norte High Principal Ty Eveleth eventually concluded that the plaintiff had "borderline" bullied Phelps’ daughter. The plaintiff says she and her fellow teammates were forced to sign a document admitting to wrongdoing. The plaintiff says she was also told she'd be kicked off the softball team.

The lawsuit against Phelps alleges First Amendment violations, harassment, and negligence. Phelps has denied the claims.

“Never at any time have I made threats towards any student nor tried to prevent them from graduating,” the superintendent said in a statement. “Never at any time did I fire a coach. Never at any time did I leverage my position as Superintendent to interfere with the school’s investigation nor did I ask the school to initiate one. An investigation into a student’s repeated behaviors against my daughter leading up to, including, and following the softball banquet was initiated by Del Norte High School. The school conducted a thorough investigation which included interviews with multiple students and witnesses, and appropriate measures were implemented by the school."

Dr. Marian Kim Phelps has served as the Superintendent of the Poway Unified School District since April 2017.