Scott Stanec, who was on leave from his job as principal of Mann Middle School, died over the weekend on a mountain in Switzerland, School District 11 announced Monday.

Stanec was hiking or skiing when he died, said Glenn Gustafson, deputy superintendent and chief financial officer for District 11.

"He was there with his wife, who was on a work assignment in Europe," Gustafson said. "We got notification today that he died sometime during the weekend. We did inform the school staff."

Stanec's wife, Kris, is an instructor at Colorado College. She had taken leave to teach at a school in Zermatt, Switzerland.

In an August letter to Mann parents, Stanec announced that he would be leaving for three months to accompany her to Switzerland, along with their son and daughter.

He called it a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" for the family.

In a prepared statement, District 11 called Stanec's death "a tragic accident" and said it was "grieving the loss of a valued employee."

Gustafson said the district "sends its thoughts and prayers to his family at this time.”

Mann Middle School has been at the center of news headlines recently with the arrest of Colorado Springs Police Officer Joshua Carrier, 30, who was Mann's school resource officer. Carrier is accused of molesting 22 children related to his work as a volunteer wrestling coach at the school.

The school's web site on Monday congratulated students for having the greatest number reading this year's All Pikes Peak Reads book, "The Hunger Games" across the district.

The family was planning to return to Colorado Springs in early December, said Palmer High School hockey coach Kevin Shrewsbury, who coaches Stanec's son, D.J., a sophomore.

"They were scheduled to be back around Dec. 8," Schrewsbury said, adding that a member of the team spoke to one of the Stanec family and was told the principal was hiking alone when he died.