The Valley View school board voted 5-2 Monday to accept the resignation of a controversial Bolingbrook High School principal.
Supporters of Michael D. White say he instilled order and discipline at a school that sorely needed it when he arrived in 2012 and became the school's third principal in four years.
Detractors said Monday that White has bullied parents and students while promoting tactics that give up on troubled students.
The vote came after a contentious, three-and-a-half-hour meeting at Lukancic Middle School in Romeoville.
White tendered his resignation this month, effective at the end of this school year.
Parents, students and teachers lined up to voice support and opposition for White's employment and tactics, moves that brought homework sweeps and calling students out who were tardy, among other new policies, to the school.
But the give-and-take among the approximately 500 community members in the auditorium and watching remotely from the nearby cafeteria touched on deeper racial and class issues within Bolingbrook, as well as some simmering discontent with district leadership.
Bolingbrook High Parent-Teacher Association head Lynn Wypych said supporters had collected 1,200 signatures asking the school board to decline White's resignation.
White had no issue with sending students home who didn't follow the rules in order to allow students who wanted to learn to do so without disruption, multiple staff members said last week.
But Superintendent Dr. James Mitchem, the target of much ire and accusations during the online campaign to keep White at Bolingbrook High, said such zero-tolerance attitudes do a disservice to problem students because it eliminates them from the school but not the community at large.
"They don't go away," he said. "We just fail to educate them."
White said before the meeting Monday that he was resigning because he felt he couldn't institute the changes he felt should be his to make as Bolingbrook High's building principal.
White said he talked to the school board members about what would be required to make him change his mind.
"If you're going to do something in the building, then the building principal out to know and weigh in," he said.
"These people feel oppressed," White said of rank-and-file teachers and staff at Bolingbrook High.
School Board President Steven Quigley said White was "at no point" asked to step down.
"This thing got way out of control because someone said this or someone said that," he said.
White said his disciplinarian approach is based on coming from the same "very modest" background as many Bolingbrook students.
Kids are struggling with unstable situations outside the classroom, he said, and need order at school.
"That's what I lived," White said. "And that's why I don't give them an opportunity to make a poor choice."