duPont Manual principal reassigned after controversial recording
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jerry Mayes, whose racially insensitive comments in a meeting with African-American students sparked an investigation by Jefferson County Public Schools, is no longer principal at duPont Manual High School.
JCPS Assistant Superintendent Glenn Baete sent a letter to Manual families on Friday informing them that he has been reassigned less than a month before the new school year starts. Mayes will be placed in a non-instructional role in the district, according to the letter.
The move comes after Mayes was reprimanded in November after a recorded conversation with two students last year. The students had met with Mayes to discuss Manual's football coach disallowing trainers from kneeling during the national anthem before a game against Male. Such protests had been seen on National Football League sidelines as players demonstrated against racial inequality.
The recorded conversation obtained by WDRB continues for more than an hour. On the tape, Mayes takes issue with protesting during the anthem and the work of the district's diversity office.
"What I don't like about it, there is some people where this is a sincere gesture on their part, and they sincerely mean that," Mayes said in the recording. "There are some people jumping on it because it's the cool thing to do."
Mayes also said he was a victim of religious discrimination as a Protestant, saying he felt it was no different than discrimination faced by African-Americans. He also said he had lost jobs for being white.
"You don't know how I was isolated or you don't know how I was discriminated against by the Catholic community because I was a Protestant," he said in the recording. "My parents divorced. I could say that all day."
Mayes, who previously apologized for his remarks, could not immediately be reached for comment.
WDRB News has requested a copy of the investigation and correspondence explaining disciplinary action taken against Mayes from JCPS.
Mayes's remarks quickly drew protests at the school, and some Manual students and parents frequented Jefferson County Board of Education meetings, where they urged his ouster. However, others voiced their support for the beleaguered principal.
"We would like to express our thanks to Mr. Mayes for his 37 years of service thus far, as well as his active support of PTSA initiatives and programs and his devotion to our success in serving our Manual community," Manual's Parent Teacher Student Association said in a statement. "Please join us in helping our student body move forward.
Quintez Brown, who graduated from Manual in May and led the school's black student union, called Mayes's removal "a very positive step" for Manual.
"I definitely feel like today our voices were heard," he said. "Today, I feel like it was a win for the students. I feel like the students that were kept under the rug for so long, students who were silenced for so long, I feel like today is their day. Today's their day to shine. Today's their day to let them know that we are powerful, we have a voice, and we will make sure justice will emerge."
Brown said he personally never had negative interactions with Mayes, but he knows plenty who did.
"Principal Mayes made many students for many years feel like they were not included in the school, that they were not involved, and many were afraid of him," Brown said. "That's the reason why I stood up and spoke for them."
A culture and climate audit of Manual found that some students at the magnet school felt marginalized.
"Students shared that after being at Manual for a few years their eyes have opened to the inequalities that take place and that subtle differences exist,” auditors with Lexington-based Millennium Learning Concepts wrote. “There is very little blatant disrespect or personal mistreatment, but most staff and students recognize that it does exist for their minority peers.”
Assistant Principal Greg Kuhn will oversee Manual during the search for a new principal at the magnet school, ranked as Kentucky's best public school.
Brown said he hopes the next leader at Manual "understands the diversity of Manual, understands the Manual students and makes sure that Manual lives up to its tradition of being a diverse school."
The text of the letter announcing Mayes's reassignment appears below:
Dear duPont Manual High School Staff and Families:
I hope this note finds you well and enjoying the summer break with your families.
I wanted you to be the first to know that we have had a change in leadership at duPont Manual High School. Based on the results of the investigation conducted by an outside investigator, Superintendent Dr. Marty Pollio has decided to reassign Jerry Mayes to a non-instructional position within the district, effectively immediately. The search for a new leader will begin right away. I will be working with the School-Based Decision Making Council and expect that we will work collaboratively and efficiently to choose a new principal. Of course, I will keep you updated as the search progresses.
During this transition, Assistant Principal Greg Kuhn will work with me to oversee the daily operations at Manual.
Manual is one of the country’s premier institutions of learning, and I know that working together, we will find the perfect person to continue the commitment to academic excellence and write the next chapter in Manual’s storied history.
Dr. Glenn Baete, Assistant Superintendent of High Schools
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