Superintendent Wayne Gent prepares for investigation into principal, board member

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The superintendent of Palm Beach schools says there will be an investigation into a battle between a school board member and the principal of the school her kids attend.

After a one day reassignment, Wayne Gent is also going to allow South Olive Elementary School principal Hank Smith to return to work tomorrow morning.

Board member Jennifer Brown has been accused by Smith of intimidating his teachers and of going around the superintendent to keep tabs on the school - which her own children attend.

On Wednesday, she had a chance to respond.

"I follow the advice of counsel of of human resources and I'm sorry, this is an ongoing personnel investigation and I really can't comment," said Brown. "I'm sorry I can't."

When asked whether she believed Smith is a good principal, she said, "I can't comment."

That, after Smith - known countywide for running a high performing school - was told by the superintendent not to come to South Olive Elementary for work Wednesday, during a review of the situation.

Parents and students rallied to Smith's side on land and in the air.

"I was wondering where he was," said South Olive 3rd grader Tysen Humbel. "It's always been Mr. Smith telling me good job for being on honor roll."

Smith will be allowed back to work tomorrow, but says he won't be back for another year unless he's assured by Superintendent Gent that Brown will back off.

Gent says there will be an investigation, but didn't know whether it would be internal or done by another authority like the state ethics commission.

"We have two well-meaning professionals, we need to look into that to see what the issues are," said Gent. "That school is a high-performing school. He has done an excellent job and has an excellent track record."

NewsChannel 5 tried to ask Brown if she's ever crossed the line,  from legislator to enforcer.

"I will, I will talk to you when it's over," she said.

Superintendent Gent also says that he will talk to other principals to see if they're feeling the way Smith is,  that board members are overbearing.

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