Catholic School Principal Firing Leaves Parents Without Explanation

PERRY, Iowa  --  Students and parents were looking forward to last Thursday's back to school event at Perry's St. Patrick Catholic School, but it immediately turned in another direction.

"We were handed letters when we walked in the front door of the school," said Andrea Tunink, a parent of three.

Parents were told through that letter of second year Principal Eddie Diaz's firing.

Andrea said, "We like to think of ourselves as a family, and to have something like this happen to one of our friends and family members without explanation, it's troubling."

Father Chris Riesing of St. Patrick's Parish provided a statement, saying very little: "The timing of this transition coincides with the start of a new school year and I know this creates some challenges to our staff."

Diaz is a former U.S. Marine with a Master's Degree from Drake University.  His arrival was seen by many as a blessing.

"He loves the kids, he loves the education.  He's so incredibly driven with great energy," said Tunink.

Without any evidence of wrongdoing by Diaz, Tunink led a charge for a petition to bring to the Des Moines Diocese to have Diaz reinstated.  She found that hundreds of others agreed.

"We don't know why.  It could be any number of reasons, and they can't comment, which is unfortunate."

The school of around 150 students will continue to offer the same great education, but parents say it was the little things that stood out so much.

"When you drop your kids off in the morning, Eddie is the first one at the curb opening doors and making sure kids are safely getting out of the car."

Parents supporting the petition hope the school makes a u-turn for Eddie Diaz before it's too late. Andrea said, "It will be our loss and somebody else's great gain."

Former St. Patrick's Catholic School principal Doug Latham is serving as interim principal.  The school hopes to have a permanent principal within the next month.