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Principal's complaints about superintendent cause concern in Arlington

"It's not your scores; it's your leadership," she recalled Murphy telling her. In 2009 and 2010, the school did not make adequate yearly progress, a standard required by the federal No Child Left Behind Act.

Francis said she tried to resolve the problem through conventional channels but ran into bureaucratic hurdles. "The resignation letter seemed like the only way to let people know how terrible things had become," she said.

But the letter, which outlined Francis's concerns in general terms, sparked unease among some Arlington parents.

"I'm shocked and dismayed by Ms. Francis's allegations about the new superintendent. If even half of what she wrote is true, the schools are in trouble," said Joanne Marshall, whose daughter is in sixth grade at Williamsburg.

Another parent with a sixth-grade daughter at the school, Anne Paris, said,"Arlington's School Board should seek an independent investigation by an experienced outside law firm of the points raised by Ms. Francis - particularly as to the transfer of a potentially dangerous teacher and an environment of retaliation."

Last weekend, as Francis prepared the e-mail in an emotional, two-day push, she felt relieved to get her story down on paper, she said. "I was nervous, until my finger was hovering over the send button, but wanted my staff to understand what happened."

On Wednesday afternoon, members of that staff carried bouquets to Francis's home, and the 33-year public school veteran teared up. "They're all concerned," she said. "They're all so supportive."

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