Wilmington, Del. (WTXF) - A power struggle at a local charter school led to chaos and the temporary ouster of the beloved principal.
The Thomas Edison Charter school community in Wilmington, Del. views itself as a family. And in this "family feud" it was clear the crowd gathered at the school playground Monday night was supporting their principal.
"This man is an educator," said grandparent Beverly White. "He is a motivator. He is a father to children who may not even have a father!"
Salome Thomas-El is the popular-- almost legendary-- leader of this successful charter. However, a dispute last week with the school's board landed El on administrative leave, led to a teacher sympathy strike on Friday, which in turn led to early dismissal and a day off for students Monday.
El's supporters came to a rally to show their love of their principal.
"He's a great guy all around," said Kenyatta Lucas, a former student of El's when he taught in Philadelphia, "I feel like he supported us and I feel like we owed it to him to support him."
The crowd was also there to show their anger at the school board.
"We need a new board," one woman yelled, "Because enough is enough!"
But behind closed doors this dispute apparently over the direction of the school was resolved.
El told his supporters he was ready to get back to work.
"There are always storms in our lives-- many storms in our community," El told his supporters. "But we need to be able to learn how to dance in the storm."
The chastened board president told the school community he was sorry the dispute had gotten out of hand.
"We absolutely, absolutely apologize to the community because this should not of happened this way," said Ronald Pinkett.
Gesturing to El, Pinkerton continued, "I have committed to him and he has committed to me that this will never happen again!"
With that, one woman in the crowd yelled, "Thank you! Now we're talking about brotherhood!
But while El may be in a forgiving mood, many in the crowd still harbor hard feelings toward the board.