Not Only in Chelm Do You Get a Double Dose of Principals

Every morning, students arriving at the Chabad elementary school in Netivot greet the principal. And then, a few moments later, they greet the second principal. One is the official principal, the other runs the school in practice. And they are not on speaking terms with each other.

This situation naturally impedes the school's functioning. Therefore, the parents decided to call a protest strike: Today, none of the 300 pupils will come to school.

The story began three years ago, when principal Osnat Hazan resigned and requested a transfer to a different school due to the parents' opposition to her continued tenure. Denise Malka was appointed in her stead. But two years later, despite the objections of both parents and teachers, Hazan was reinstated pursuant to a labor court ruling.

"We don't listen to what the official principal tells us to do," said one teacher. "Everyone here is afraid of her. We feel threatened, and the school isn't functioning."

"It's a catastrophe here," she continued. "We're all confused and don't know what to do. We take orders from Denise, and if Osnat issues orders, we don't carry them out."

"The children are very afraid and don't understand what is happening," another teacher added.

The teachers even issued a formal letter of complaint about the dysfunctional situation. The letter made it clear that they side with Malka. And the parents feel the same way.

"We're not willing to accept this sudden decree about replacing principal Denise Malka that has landed on us from the Education Ministry," the parents wrote in a letter asking the Knesset Education Committee to intervene. "Currently, our children are learning in an unpleasant, unhealthy atmosphere."

The Education Ministry responded that it had no choice but to obey the court's ruling.