Diocese of San Diego to remove principal for nepotism

Rule wasn't enforced when Karen Laaperi hired her son as a teacher

Santa Sophia Catholic Church (image from La Mesa Today)

For much of the last 30 years, a small elementary school just beyond the south side of Mt. Helix has been a quiet anchor for families seeking affordable private education for their children.

Under the dedicated guidance of its Principal Karen Laaperi, Santa Sophia Academy, a Catholic school, has served generations of families in Casa de Oro’s multi-cultural community.

Principal Karen Laaperi (image from La Mesa Today)

But with virtually little warning and no consultation with the school community, parents say, the San Diego diocese suddenly decided to enforce a policy that hadn’t been enforced for years and is forcing Laaperi to leave her post.

In a letter to the school community, John Galvan, director of the diocese office for schools, informed the school community that he had decided to enforce a “long-standing diocese policy’’ that restricts relatives supervising family members.

Laaperi, with permission of the diocesan leadership at the time, hired her son, employing him as a teacher. Parents say the diocese was aware of the original hiring and allowed it. Now, suddenly, the diocese made a decision that is forcing the principal to leave after decades of exemplary service.

Laaperi has attempted to keep a low profile despite the angry parents. In an email to to the parents which was shared by parents with LaMesaToday.com, Laaperi tried to calm the situation saying “It is my opinion there is nothing to gain in seeking legal action or making this public. I believe we should always strive for our reputation to be an image of Christ to all who know us or may come to know us.”

Kevin Eckery, vice chancellor of the San Diego Diocese, acknowledged that the nepotism rule had not been enforced under the previous bishop, but the organization began conversations about the rule soon after new Bishop Robert McElroy was appointed in 2015.

Eckery said the move at Santa Sophia was not spurred by specific complaints, but that he was aware there were “some expressions of discomfort” on the part of parents who didn’t want to discuss teacher performance with the principal.

Full story at La Mesa Today.

Comments

  1. something doesn’t smell clean here. Why suddenly start enforcing a rule after at least four years? More importantly, is the Diocese searching for other possible violations?

    • There are examples of this at the Dioceses itself as well as the homeless and I have experienced the dangerous behaviors first hand. They are above their own law as well as the laws of United States of America. When you try and report, as usual, they turn their head the other way.

  2. Simon of Simony says

    Me smells a “RAT”!!!

    McElroy might have a hand in this.

  3. I grew up in this wonderful parish and was married at Santa Sophia. It’s too bad this situation was allowed in the first place. The diocese took the right action; however, Ms. Laaperi’s son could have spared his mother this grief by getting a job elsewhere or resigning.

  4. Silent Observer says

    This has been going on for decades in the Diocese of San Diego schools. We have had school principals hiring their husbands as maintenance workers, their daughters as teachers’ aides, their sons as coaches. There are many more cases of principals hiring their “best friends” as school secretaries, bookkeepers, and classroom assistants. I worked in a school where the principal’s husband was the school janitor. He could be found sleeping in his closet on any given day, mellowed out from smoking his “joint”. There are plenty of hogtied witnesses afraid of repercussions.

    • This goes on in other dioceses, too. though it is usually directed against teachers by the principals and education department.

  5. As a pastor/superintendent of the parish schools, this could easily be corrected by placing the son at another school. On its own, it is not an offense meriting dismissal. Something else is going on here, and Mrs. Laaperi appears gracious in not making a public spectacle.

  6. Couldn’t agree more. Human relations department could handle things a lot more professionally and proactively. Didn’t have this much turnover prior to this bishop. Its unprofessional and demeaning to teachers and principles.

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