Macedonian teachers and students at the “Marie Curie Sklodowska” chemistry high school in Skopje are protesting after Skopje Mayor Petre Silegov appointed Blerim Nebiu, an ethnic Albanian teacher, as school principal.

The boycott began on Wednesday afternoon and the teachers and students said it will continue in the coming days. They protest the fact that they were not involved in the appointment of the new principal, but also after a series of nationalist comments from Albanian students after the appointment. “We won, we took over the Chemical school”, was a message shared on Albanian language media outlets and on the social media after the appointment of Nebiu as the new principal.

Silegov and Education Minister Arber Ademi insisted that Nebiu meets the criteria to be appointed principal but called on the Albanians not to express triumphalism over this move.

I will not allow politics to seep into our schools, said Silegov.

The school is evenly divided in its ethnic break-down between Macedonian and Albanian students. Silegov said that Macedonian teachers have no right to protest the appointment of Nebiu and should resume with their work.

The protesting teachers say that the school board was not consulted in the election of the new principal. They cite the aggressive nationalist comments shared after the appointment of Nebiu, but also the announcements from ethnic Macedonian students that they will leave or not enroll into the school if it is led by an Albanian principal. Fights between Albanian and Macedonian students are common in the school, and the Macedonian students say they feel unsafe if the school is Albanian led.