MINNEAPOLIS (FOX 9) - Students at Minneapolis' North Community High School are standing in solidarity with their principal.
On Sunday, Minneapolis Public Schools said Mauri Friestleben will be staying on as principal through the end of the year, walking back its earlier announcement that she was on leave. The district apologized for the difficulty this situation has caused the North community.
Students told FOX 9 the situation has left them irritated and confused.
"We already are going through so much this whole school year. And then on top of that, you take away our principal and think that we're just going to stand by and let that happen?" said Khadija Ba, a senior at North Community High School.
Friestleben, their beloved principal, will be finishing out this school year with them, but students wonder whether that'll be the case next year.
"She always tells us how much she loves us and how great we're going to be and we're the future. Like professors, presidents, lawyers — just encouraging us every day," said Willie Wilson, who is also a senior at North Community High School.
On Friday, Friestleben announced she would not be returning to the school, after she was being placed on leave because of her decision to protest with students following the death of Amir Locke. After the protest, North High student Deshaun Hill was shot and killed on his way home.
On Sunday, the district walked back its decision to place Friestleben on leave, telling families in a letter that she would stay on through the end of the school year.
"What signal are you sending to the kids? What message are you sending to the parents, to the community? It doesn't make any sense," said Cynthia Wilson, president of the Minneapolis NAACP.
Community members said damage has already been done because Friestleben had to miss prom Friday night.
"We knew that we didn't want her not being at prom to mess up our day, and that she wouldn't want it to mess up our day either. But that's definitely a piece that we were missing at the dance," Willie Wilson said.
In her statement, Friestleben said she was strongly advised not to attend the February sit-in with her students and she did so anyway. Those students now say it was their principal who taught them to stand up for themselves, and they can't imagine school without her.
"Ms. Mari is the heart of North High, and she brings a lot of just positive energy and positive vibes. She makes us want to change the lifestyle and change the repetitiveness that we go through," Ba said.
FOX 9 asked district leaders whether Friestleben will return next year and what the district's policy is on staff members taking part in protests. A district spokesperson said she did not have any more information to share.
The NAACP is rallying in support of Friestleben at 9 a.m. Monday at the John B. Davis Education Service Center in Minneapolis.