Settlements Threaten to Keep Kids at Home if 'Violent' Principal Reinstated

The parents' committee in the West Bank settlement of Elkana intends to keep the 800 students enrolled in the community's elementary school from beginning school unless the Education Ministry retracts its decision to return the school's former principal to his post.

The committee's announcement has won the support of the local government, as well as the governments of the nearby settlements of Karnei Shomron and Oranit, whose children also attend the school. The three towns now are planning alternative activities to occupy the children during the school year.

The principal took unpaid leave four years ago and was scheduled to return to his position ahead of the upcoming school year. But the parents say they have filed a number of complaints accusing him of violent behavior toward the children, and are unwilling to take him back.

Tzadok Zehorai, head of Elkana's local council, told Haaretz the ministry should have no trouble finding another principal for the school.

The ministry responded that its file on the principal includes no complaints about his work performance or improper behavior toward students. Only after Elkana residents learned that the principal would likely be reinstated did the ministry received several anonymous complaints about his behavior, most of them dealing with alleged impropriety during his early career as a principal.

Ministry officials are continuing to examine these complaints, the statement continued. But for now, the principal is scheduled to return to the school at the end of his unpaid leave, and the matter will be dealt with in accordance with ministry regulations.