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* Editors Note: Article has been updated for clarity 

Nadia Lopez, the former principal and founder of Mott Hall Bridges Academy in Brownsville, has been met with hostility at her beloved school after a couple of thoughtful visits.

According to the New York Post, on April 13, while filming a segment of a documentary that touches on the school’s humble beginnings, a conversation between Lopez and a former student took them inside the school building to share a quick hello with a memorable faculty member which also included a greeting with acting principal Laura Onwuka. As Lopez concluded her brief time on campus, she was made aware that her presence caused “tension” among staff.

“I literally was told that I shouldn’t come back,” Lopez told the outlet in an exclusive interview. “I can’t even express how hurtful this is.”

Lopez is currently under investigation by the Department of Education for making “unauthorized” visits on campus. The agency has also accused her of taking photos of students without permission and posting them on social media.

It is unknown if any conflict stems from an earlier visit Lopez made to the school in March, when she checked in—following proper protocol, Lopez told MADAMENOIRE—and offered support and encouragement to Onwuka and the academy’s staff and students. In an effort to boost morale, the school’s founder handed out mini self-care packages, a common practice she was known for during her tenure at the Brownsville school.

Supporters of Lopez called out the slight on social media:

Laquana Lane, an alumnus from the school, who was present during the April 13 encounter, told the NYPost: “I was shocked. I felt bad for Ms. Lopez, knowing she wasn’t allowed to come back to the school she built. It was pretty sad.”

In an Instagram post, Lopez shared a message of encouragement that appeared to be from a former student and spoke to the bond and relationships established at Mott Hall Bridges Academy.

Lopez left the school in 2021, after battling an autoimmune kidney disease “which doctors attributed to work-related stress,” the Post reported.

However, prior to her exit, the “Black Girls Rock” award recipient went viral on Humans of New York, after her student spoke with the popular site about how she’s made an impact on his life in and beyond the classroom. As a result, good samaritans donated nearly $1.4 million to the students at Mott Hall Bridges.

In 2016, Lopez published her book, The Bridge to Brilliance: How One Principal in a Tough Community Is Inspiring the World, which details her journey to open Mott Hall in one of America’s poorest communities during a record heatwave and crime spree across Brooklyn.

Read the full exclusive interview with Lopez here

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