SAN DIEGO – Around 300 students at Hoover High School walked out of class Thursday morning in protest of the dismissal of a soccer coach.
Papo Santos had been the boy's head soccer coach for 21 years until last week when he was laid off, according to students who played on his team. His dismissal happened one week after the girl's head soccer coach.
The protest at the school located on the 4400 block of El Cajon Boulevard started with a couple dozen soccer players and grew to hundreds of students by 11:30 a.m.
San Diego Unified School District spokeswoman Linda Zintz said the students walked out "peacefully" and remained cooperative inside the school lunch quad during the lunch period.
Students claimed school officials said Santos decided to leave on his own, but the coach said he was forced out. Students are asking school officials to be upfront with why Santos was let go.
Vice Principal Jeremy Martin confirmed with FOX 5 that the two walk-on coaches were let go.
The school made a decision to not renew their contracts. They are currently looking for new coaches.
Junior soccer player Max Palafox said Santos is irreplaceable.
"Coach Papos has done so much for us. He does community service and volunteers for services that most other people charge for – like practices and taking the kids out," Palafox said. "He's worked with us for years."
The protest eventually defused and classes resumed. Since the protest was peaceful, none of the students were disciplined.