A screenshot of the Del Mar Union School District School Board meeting on Wednesday, April 27, 2022, posted on YouTube.

The former principal of Del Mar Heights School, who abruptly left the district in March, said at a board meeting Wednesday he was pushed out by district leaders who told him to resign or be demoted within the district.

Jason Soileau’s sudden departure after three years as the school’s principal caused confusion among the school’s parents. At a March 16 meeting, parents praised Soileau and questioned whether he was forced out. 

“What we’re hearing is that over the last few years, principals… have either been demoted within the district or chose not to accept the renewal of their contract because doing so would mean leaving the school they’ve grown to love, all without a valid reason – at least not one shared with the community,” said parent Esther Rubio-Sheffrey at the March meeting.

Soileau settled the speculation during the public comment portion of Wednesday’s meeting, saying he wanted to “right a wrong and clear [his] name.” Soileau is now the principal at Camarena Elementary School in Chula Vista.

He said he did not want to leave, but that Assistant Superintendent Ryan Stanley told him to resign or be reassigned.

“In January, Mr. Stanley visited me about instructional concerns, but could not give me anything in writing or anything specific,” Soileau said. “On Feb. 2… [Stanley] came to tell me that at the end of this school year, I would no longer be principal at Del Mar Heights. I was given two options: resign or be reassigned.”

Soileau said he never received anything in writing about inadequate performance. He referenced the last evaluation he received from the district’s superintendent Holly McClurg, where she allegedly praised his work at Del Mar Heights.

“Shortly after Feb. 2, I met with Dr. McClurg to let her know that after 10 years of being an amazing principal, I could not go back into the classroom, so my only option was to resign, even though I still don’t know why,” Soileau said.

Soileau said, McClurg responded that she “needed the right people, in the right place, at the right time.”

“Every employee in the state of California has a constitutional right to privacy,” said Stanley to Planetcob via email. “The District is prohibited from disclosing or discussing publicly reasons that exist for personnel decisions.”

Several parents at the March meeting asked for an independent investigation of the district’s hiring, dismissal and relocation processes. There has been no indication that’s in the works.

Tigist Layne is Planetcob's north county reporter. Contact her directly at tigist.layne@planetcob.com or (619) 800-8453. Follow her...

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  1. This sounds like a normal part of like-minded team building by upper management that is common in private enterprise. Principals are in key leadership positions, and the superintendents are creating a subordinate team that meets their goals. Same with the temporary at-will teachers. The superintendents believe they can find a better teacher for these positions. It's unusual in public schools, as corporate culture building is disruptive to a union employed-for-life business model.

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