TEMECULA (CBSLA.com) — Hundreds of people are expected to vent their frustrations at a meeting Tuesday night over the firing of a beloved middle school principal.

The growing outcry is over the firing of Karen Hayes, who served as principal of Margarita Middle School for the past 13 years. The Temecula Valley Unified School District Board of Governors voted 4-1 on March 17 to place her on administrative leave, and effective June 30, terminate her services with the district.

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“I’ve known Karen Hayes for seven years. She’s a stellar principal and educator,” said Craig Johns, co-owner of Wilson Creek Winery, where Tuesday night’s meeting is scheduled. Johns says he has an eighth-grader enrolled at Margarita and another son who graduated from the school.

“My biggest frustration is, we were given virtually no notice that the school board was going to take this thumbs up or down vote,” he said. “Despite that, we had 125 people at the meeting, ready to speak. It was standing-room-only. And they gave us 10 minutes. They voted, and the next day they’re cleaning out her office.”

The board action followed an investigation into email correspondence between Hayes and a teacher, according to Hayes’ attorneys. The emails were apparently about a confrontation between the female teacher and a male colleague, who used profanity in front of students and caused the woman to cry, according to Hayes’ supporters.

District officials would not comment on the specifics, but did say in a statement that “further inquiry into the circumstances of the case” was underway.

In an earlier statement, TVUSD Superintendent Timothy Ritter stated that, “in these circumstances, the public is often acting on misinformation.”

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“We encourage the public to recognize that there is always another side to the story and that these decisions are appropriately left to the judgment of district administration and the board,” the statement said.

The decision to remove Hayes prompted a student walkout and demonstration on March 20, with several hundred youths, along with their parents and guardians, walking more than a mile from Margarita Middle School to district headquarters, where the demonstrators chanted and waved signs for around three hours, demanding the principal’s reinstatement.

Supporters have praised Hayes for active involvement in programs such as Bring a Parent to School, the campus Watch Dogs, the Peanut Butter and Jelly Club and Focus on the Future. She’s also been a booster for efforts to honor members of the military and has taken part in negotiations with the teachers’ union, according to published reports.

Johns said that Hayes will be attending tonight’s meeting at the winery, which begins at 7 p.m. She may, however, elect not to address her case for legal reasons.

The Hayes reinstatement campaign website is at www.savehayes.com. A petition to have Hayes reinstated had 47 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon, but a petition to remove Hayes from the district had 26 signatures.

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