Parents clash over elementary school principal's future

SEATTLE-- A heated confrontation broke out at Wednesday’s school board meeting in Seattle.

“If we can’t come to the meeting where we’re supposed to be heard, when is the time?”  Celeste Bolton asked while addressing the school board.

One group of parents is fighting for their principal, while another group claims she’s dividing the school.

Parents like Bolton say they’re frustrated. They say they’ve been kept in the dark about what’s happening with Emerson Elementary Principal Andrea Drake, who was placed on leave October 17.

The district isn’t saying why.

Despite parents’ concerns, the school board refused to talk about what they call personnel issues.

“Directors up here have to follow the law and policy,” said School Board member Leslie Harris during the meeting.

Supporters of Drake say she is trying to bridge the achievement gap, but some disagree.

“I believe it’s imperative that we restore the positive culture at Emerson and regain our focus on supporting the students,” said Leah Africa during public testimony at the School Board meeting.

Africa, a parent to three children at Emerson, believes the principal has created a divide in the school community.

“It’s not a comfortable place for parents to be,” said Africa. “In past it has been; since the new administration took over last year, parents have been cut out.”

Shelley Williams, Emerson’s kitchen manager, says she filed a complaint against the principal for creating a hostile work environment.

“She’s unprofessional, she’s dishonest, she’s very difficult to work with,” saidWilliams. 

Without answers from the district, some even took their fight into the lobby with both sides saying this fight is for the kids.

At this point, there’s no word when Drake will be reinstated. A district official says she could be back as early as next week.