St. Patrick’s Catholic School has named Mr. Doug Latham as Interim Principal for the upcoming school year following the announcement of Principal Eddie Diaz’ sudden departure. Parents were told of the situation via statement at the Back to School Night, which later sparked a two-day-long petition event hosted by those who wanted answers.

“It was an idea; we were trying to think of a way to get our voice heard because we weren’t getting answers and we really are in support of Eddie,” said Andrea Tunink, St. Patrick’s parent said.

Parent Cathie Sucher was at the Back to School event with other families when the announcement went public.

“On Back to School night as parents walked in, we got a note from the Priest saying we no longer have a Principal,” said Cathie Sucher, St. Patrick’s parent. “We’re looking for answers; we want to know why and we want our Diocese to know that it wasn’t handled right - you can’t throw that on parents a week before school starts.”

The goal of the petition was to show how many people support Principal Eddie Diaz, both inside and outside of the church and school. Saturday’s petition took place at the Public Safety Day hosted in the Hy-Vee parking lot, followed by a petition signing in the parking lot of Snap Fitness on Sunday.

“He was such a great Principal and he has such great ideas and he’s such a leader to our kids,” Tunink said.”He’s very personal, and the way the situation was handled with the staff and the parents - it just wasn’t right.”

Diaz was in the process of introducing a new Leader in Me program designed to build leaderships within the school district. Over the summer, Diaz introduced STEM learning camps which welcomed in children from outside of the school along with St. Patrick’s School students.

“He was introducing new programs for our kids, he was getting the STEM program going for us, and he was getting our kids to become good leaders in the community,” Sucher said.

“We’re not just asking for parents of St. Pats, we’re asking for anybody that knows Eddie and knows what a great worker and a great person he is,” Sucher said. “We are just trying to collect as many [signatures] as possible.”

The following press release was issued from St. Patrick’s School:

“St. Patrick Catholic School in Perry named Mr. Doug Latham as its interim principal while a search committee begins the process to secure a new principal for the school.

Latham brings to the position 43 years of experience in education and most recently served as Principal of St. Patrick from 2014-2016. He holds a Specialist of Education in Educational Administration from Drake University. He has served as an educator through teaching for eight years including time at Creston Catholic, now called St. Malachy, and administration for 30 years, 13 of which included Superintendent of Schools in Earlham, Spirit Lake and Orient-Macksburg.

Latham is filling in after former principal, Eddie Diaz, left last week. It is hoped that a new principal will be named within the next month.

“The timing of this transition coincides with the start of a new school year, and I know this creates some challenges for our staff,” said Father Chris Reising, pastor of St. Patrick Parish.

“At the same time, I have personally witnessed the dedication and love with which our teachers and staff treat each student and the support they offer each other. St. Patrick Parish is blessed with a very special group of educators who put their students first,” he added. “With the help of Latham, we can together teach, encourage and support our students as we begin the process to bring on board a new principal.”

“I am confident that the teachers will continue to work collaboratively with the parents to build a positive learning and faith community that will allow each child to have a successful school year and recognize their God-given talents,” said Superintendent Dr. Tracy Bonday.

This is an ongoing story and The Perry Chief will continue to update as more information is made available.