While we don't yet know exactly why Debra Tarver was let go as principal of Pathways to College charter school two weeks ago, one thing is certain: A number of students, parents, teachers and staff are devastated to see her go.

By most accounts, Tarver was a smart, charismatic, gentle and inspirational figure head. During the recent school library opening, students who followed her into the new facility were as thrilled to be surrounded by new books as they would be watching Tony Hawk perform a private skateboard demonstration. And getting students excited to learn is a school administrator's most important accomplishment.

"From July to February, it has been a completely awesome school," said parent Korena Bridges, the president of the Parent Advisory Council.

Despite the Pathways to College success, which also includes improved student test scores, Tarver was always quick to applaud the enthusiastic parents. She recognized that without their "buy in" none of the success could occur.

And so the decision of the five-member board of directors that oversees Pathways to College (the Pathways board a different body than the Hesperia Unified School District board of trustees) is a very curious one. Why remove an immensely popular principal who appears to be making tremendous strides to improve her school?

The collapse of the California Charter Academy forever set back the charter school movement, and now Tarver's removal is another hit. And that's a shame. When charter schools began 20 years ago, they offered a new type of publicly-funded education with less rules, regulations and constraints. For many, these virtually autonomous schools renewed a belief that parents could control their students' destinies. And because of their smaller sizes -- the K-12 Pathways has about 165 students -- classes were smaller. That, at least theoretically, equates into more effective learning environments.

Some may see Tarver's departure as a reflection on the school district because Pathways is chartered under the HUSD. And, in fact, a relatively large number of school administrators have left the district since three new board members were elected to office in November of 2006. Those who have left include former school superintendents Richard Bray and Hank Richardson, former assistant superintendent Robert Challinor, former school police chief Bob Mosley, and former principals David Long of Kingston Elementary and Irene Lopez of Lime Street.

But such departures have occurred for a variety of reasons. Some chose to leave for new opportunities. Others were let go because they didn't fit into the school board's direction for the district.

Whatever the reason this time, Debra Tarver's departure is certainly a sad one. Just ask the Pathways to College students.