Education

Clayton High principal reinstated on ‘probationary basis.’ His removal led to outcry.

Bennett Jones will return as Clayton High School’s principal following a controversial reassignment out of the school that sparked protests by parents and students.

Interim Johnston County Superintendent James Causby announced Monday that he’s reinstating Jones as Clayton High principal on Oct. 14. Causby said that Jones will serve on a “probationary basis” for the rest of the 2019-20 school year.

“I have presented him with specific requirements that must be met to my satisfaction,” Causby said in a statement. “His achievement or lack of achievement of those requirements will determine my future decisions on his employment and assignment.”

In August, Jones was reassigned to a job in central office in what district leaders called a “personnel matter.” Jones had been Clayton High’s principal since 2016 and was Johnston County’s 2017-18 Principal of the Year.

Students and parents had rallied around Jones, demanding that he be brought back as principal.

Jones filed a grievance against former Superintendent Ross Renfrow about his reassignment. Causby was named interim superintendent after Renfrow announced his retirement in August.

Last month, the school district announced that an investigation determined that 13 Clayton High seniors had received diplomas this year despite not having enough credits to meet graduation requirements. Causby announced a week later that six of the students had been cleared.

Causby said Monday that he had ruled against Jones’ grievance in all areas.

“The individuals handling the investigation acted in a fair and appropriate manner, and, as a result of the review, numerous serious issues concerning the operations at the school were identified,” Causby said.

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T. Keung Hui has covered K-12 education for the News & Observer since 1999, helping parents, students, school employees and the community understand the vital role education plays in North Carolina. His primary focus is Wake County, but he also covers statewide education issues.
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