Superintendent Patty Page says Poulsbo Elementary School Principal Claudia Alves went on a leave of absence Wednesday that wasn't considered a disciplinary action.
The Kitsap Sun reports Alves used the N-word with fifth-graders who were uncomfortable with the word "negro" while rehearsing a play about Martin Luther King Jr.
Alves said "negro" was not the same as the N-word, and she used the actual word.
Shawna Smith is the mother of one of the fifth-graders upset with the word "negro." She says she complained Jan. 15 because her son heard the principal use the N-word.
Page says it's not acceptable under district policy for an employee to use the N-word to explain its meaning.
"This is something that is hard, and it is not a position that we want to be in, and we want to be sensitive to everybody," Page said.
In an interview with KOMO Newsradio, she also said that the school district could not share details of the investigation with the public.
"There are nuances and pieces that not everybody understands or knows, and unfortunately we're not as a district able to just share all of those pieces, and so that makes it hard," she said.
Not all parents were critical of Alves.
"Understood what she was trying to do, felt she had not done anything wrong," said one mother who serves on the school's PTSA. She asked that her name not be used.
"We all felt like it was a teachable moment, and know that she (Alves) would never use this word casually, loosely. She was using it within historical context. Everyone that I was with was in support of the principal," she added.