Patrick Plamondon, a former principal in the three-school Hope Elementary School District, was found dead in a Santa Barbara County Jail cell Wednesday. He was 59.

Plamondon, who was in custody for violating a restraining order, was found about 2:50 a.m. Wednesday by deputies, according to a county Sheriff’s Department news release.

An emergency medical team tried to revive him but was unsuccessful, according to the release. Although there were no obvious signs of foul play, the Coroner’s Bureau is investigating to determine the cause of death.

Plamondon, who spent six years as principal at Hope School, was known for his enthusiastic embrace of families from outside the Outer State Street-area school district.

Until two years ago, the district took in many families from the Santa Barbara School District who were attracted to the Hope district for its high test scores and exemplary parental involvement. But the Hope district stopped accepting transfer students when it became apparent that its open-door policy was no longer financially advantageous.

Plamondon, a surfer who had an affinity for Hawaiian shirts, was known for his uncanny ability to memorize the names of every child and parent at school. He also was an enthusiastic participant in campus fundraising efforts, agreeing, for instance, to bleach his hair or spend the day on the school rooftop in return for meeting certain targets.

In 2005, he and the district’s other two principals were rotated to other schools. Plamondon was transferred to Monte Vista School. He retired in February 2007.