Removal of San Ysidro principal shrouded in mystery

SAN DIEGO – The San Ysidro School District board voted Thursday to remove Smythe Elementary principal from his duties despite the community's plea to keep him in place.

Principal Dr. Joel Tapia was removed from his duties by the San Ysidro school board after an undisclosed complaint resurfaced regarding his past employment.  The young principal was placed on leave from the school three weeks ago pending an investigation.

"The San Ysidro School District values our students and staff. Personnel issues are confidential. That said, any staffing changes we make are based on what is best for students. We are working with parents to ensure they know we are listening," Interim Superintendent Mary Willis stated.

Some parents told FOX 5 the board took decisive action against Tapia after 130 students called out sick and many people complained about bullying at the school.

Teachers, parents, and students rallied Thursday in support of Tapia. The crowd of protestors chanted "recall" as the San Ysidro school board members shuffled away from the meeting.

“I'm just devastated. I really thought I would at least get to speak to the board,” said Tapia.

This is not the first time Tapia has been moved from a school where he held the top post, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported. On two other occasions, he was either reassigned or placed on leave.