LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Jefferson County Public Schools will cut a $60,000 check to former duPont Manual High School Principal Gerald "Jerry" Mayes, who agreed to retire June 30 rather than fight his demotion for offensive comments, according to a copy of the settlement between Mayes and the district obtained Tuesday.
Mayes, who was reassigned to a non-teaching role in the district's materials production office in July 2018, had contested his demotion for inappropriate comments he made to Manual students and staff, but he and JCPS settled the matter before his four-day hearing with the school board was set to begin last week.
The district announced Wednesday that Mayes would retire at the end of June rather than continuing his appeal, which was one of the terms in the agreement signed by both sides that day and provided by JCPS in response to an open records request.
The settlement stipulates a one-time payment of $60,000 to Mayes within 20 days of the agreement to cover legal fees and any injuries he claimed he suffered as a result of his demotion.
Mayes also agreed not to sue the district, something he had threatened unless he was restored to his former position as Manual's principal, and not to seek another job with JCPS, according to the settlement.
JCPS directed WDRB News to the statement announcing the settlement Wednesday, which said neither side would provide additional comment on the matter. Mayes' attorney, Garry Adams, did not immediately respond to a request for comment on details of the settlement.
The investigation into Mayes was prompted by racially insensitive comments he made to black students in his office, which were recorded and later released publicly. In the October 2017 recording, Mayes took issue with football players kneeling during the national anthem, criticized the work of JCPS Chief Equity Officer John Marshall, and compared his experience as a Protestant youth in a predominantly Catholic community to discrimination faced by African-Americans.
The recording prompted protests by Manual students and calls for his removal as principal as well as an audit of the school's climate and culture, which found that Manual administrators could do more to cultivate a sense of community for all students at the high-performing school.
During the district's investigation, other questionable comments by Mayes came to light. Witnesses said they had heard Mayes use terms like "wigger" and "Indian giver" and had complained about the way a black girl was dressed for a performance at Youth Performing Arts School, telling an employee that it looked "like a National Geographic photo shoot." Investigators also faulted him for inappropriately sharing personnel information with staff.
Had he stayed with the district and lost his appeal, Mayes' salary was set to drop from $152,637 to $83,739 at the start of the 2019-20 school year.
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