The cause of his death was not released. Pappy resigned as principal last June. At the time, school officials declined to elaborate on the move, citing personnel privacy rules.
Durham Public Schools hired him in 2006 after he spent four years as a high school principal in Richmond, Va.
He had improved student performance in Richmond, and Durham officials said they saw his no-nonsense, goal-oriented approach as the path to improving Hillside High.
A state judge has threatened for years to shut down the Durham school because of poor student performance.