NEW YORK - UPDATE: A judge has temporarily reinstated the principal of Ivy Hill Prep Charter School until at least Jan. 6 when a hearing will be held. Earlier this week, Ambrosia Johnson told FOX 5 NY that the members of the Board of Trustees weren't transparent about why they fired her.
EARLIER STORY: A line of elementary students trickled out of Ivy Hill Preparatory Charter School in the East Flatbush section of Brooklyn on Monday morning, with parents holding signs protesting the sudden removal of founding principal Ambrosia Johnson.
"I want Principal Johnson back because she taught us everything," one student said after she walked outside. "She doesn't deserve to be fired because she took care of us."
For the last two weeks, parents have been protesting Johnson's unexplained removal from the school and a petition has been circling the community.
The school has around 230 students but the petition already has over 1,100 signatures. "When I didn't have confidence to speak, she gave me the confidence to speak," another student said while clutching a sign.
The Board of Trustees hasn't given a solid explanation on why it suddenly terminated Johnson, according to the parents. Johnson was forced to leave immediately, which fired up those at the school who say she was instrumental in their kid's education during the pandemic.
"She was not allowed to say goodbye and if we know anything about young people, when they experience the termination of any relationship this is very emotional for them," Janeen Ettienne, a parent said.
In an exclusive interview with Fox 5 News, Johnson said she opened the school in 2019 because she wanted to address a learning gap in her home neighborhood.
"I've given every ounce of my being to Ivy Hill Prep and what it is," Johnson said. "To think my students would even have the thought that I left them or I walked away from them or for the parents to think that, was heartbreaking."
Johnson said board members haven't been transparent about why they fired her. She said they tried at first to say she resigned.
Numerous lawsuits are now in the works claiming defamation and alleging that Johnson was fired unlawfully.
"I did not resign," Johnson said pointedly. "I am not in our school building right now not by choice. That was a decision made for me and not a decision I made myself because I would never abandon my kids."
Fox 5 News reached out to the seven members on the Board of Trustees through both phone and email to ask why they terminated Johnson. Two members answered but hung up immediately. One member answered and said that a written statement would be provided but that email was never received.
Parents are calling on the state to investigate the board and its practices.
"We are now questioning the ethical standards and practices of this board," Ettienne said. "We have no confidence in their ability to make decisions that are in the best interest of our children or community teachers."