PERRY, Iowa -- The fight to keep a beloved catholic school principal began organically through petition. "The goal was to show the diocese how upset we are with the decision that was handed down to us," said petition organizer Andrea Tunink a parent of three children at St. Patrick Catholic School in Perry. Now the 640 signature petition, for a school with under 150 students, has arrived. It's sending loud cries of disappointment from Perry to Bishop Richard Pates and the Des Moines Diocese. "It showed there's definitely an interest that we have to pay attention and listen carefully to what is being said," said Bishop Pates.
St. Patrick is one of 18 catholic schools the Des Moines Diocese oversees in Iowa. Bishop Pates said, "All of us want the best for St. Patrick. We want it to be a good strong positive school and effective in it's good christian education for young people."
Principal Eddie Diaz was fired last week for reasons still unknown to teachers, parents and students. Tunink said signing the petition was simple, "We know him, we know his character and we wanted to show that we support him."
On Wednesday Bishop Pates decided to hear them out. It's my responsibility to be fair and listen to everybody and not write people off." While the passion for Diaz was clear, Bishop Pates left saying he's not making any promises. "I wanted to have the time to assess it, mull it over and not give any definitive reply at this time," said Pates.
Petitioners understand the odds are stacked against them but their concern throughout it all lies with Eddie Diaz. Tunink said, "We wanted to make sure that no matter what happened, we wanted him to be able to continue and not have his record tarnished in any way."
Bishop Pates believes there is no timetable to make a decision on Diaz's reinstatement but he would like to resolve the matter sooner than later. He could not comment at this time when asked if Diaz was fired for anything illegal or unethical.