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Minneapolis Public Schools Principal Mauri Friestleben says she has been fired from her role, citing her participation in a student-led walkout earlier this year. Friestleben, the principal at North Community High School in the Near North neighborhood, announced in a release that Friday was her last day.

Minneapolis Public Schools has denied that Friestleben has been fired, but that if she "chooses to end her employment with MPS, her decision will be respected and her leadership will be missed."

According to Friestleben, she encouraged students to organize following the fatal police shooting of Amir Locke in February.

“MPS requires schools to follow protocols in times like that and I did not,” Friestleben writes. “Specifically, I encouraged our students to plan their own actions, I gave them examples of historical disobedience (like sit-ins) and pledged to join them in their action.”

Locke was shot by police during a search warrant in a downtown apartment building on Feb. 2. Locke was not a suspect in the case and was not named on the warrant. Body camera footage shows Locke on a couch as a SWAT team enters. Officers can be heard yelling at Locke, who was legally armed, before officer Mark Hanneman shoots him.

Hanneman won’t face criminal charges, officials announced last month.

Shortly after the shooting, on Feb. 9., North High School students walked out of class and to City Hall, where they staged a sit-in. Friestleben joined the students despite being “strongly” advised against it, according to her statement.

While Friestleben cites the action as the cause departure from MPS, she emphasized that the “tragedy that day” was the fatal shooting of North Community High School student Deshaun Hill.

"The tragedy that day, though, will never be my termination from MPS as a result of my choice to join my students. The tragedy of that day will always be while we were en route downtown, our beloved classmate, Deshaun Hill Jr., was en route going home and was murdered along the way," she wrote. "That devastation will always and forever overpower, for me, what was a lovely example of peaceful protest the Polars engaged in that day."

Hill, 15, was shot near the intersection of North Golden Valley Road and North Penn Avenue while walking to a bus stop. Cody Logan Fohrenkam, 29, of Minneapolis, was charged with second-degree murder in February in relation to the shooting. 

Friestleben arrived at North High in 2019, having previously served as principal at Lucy Laney Elementary in north Minneapolis, where she and the school were featured in an award-winning KARE 11 documentary called "Love Them First."

Michael V. Walker, the founding leader of the Office of Black Student Achievement, will serve as interim principal for the remainder of the school year. 

Friestleben's full statement is below. 

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