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Will schools ‘Bring Bennett back’?

Principal transfer probe nearing completion

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SMITHFIELD — Johnston County Board of Education Chairman Mike Wooten said Sept. 11 the issue of Principal Bennett Jones’ transfer from Clayton High School should be resolved in two weeks.

Jones was transferred without explanation by former Superintendent Ross Renfrow on June 12 to serve as lead administrator of the Choice Plus program. The transfer followed a summer-long investigation of alleged grade fixing involving a football player to make him academically qualified to play on the team.

Former head football coach Hunter Jenks, in his Aug. 13 resignation letter, said Renfrow told him the day before that the investigation had not implicated the football program in any wrongdoing.

Interim Superintendent Jim Causby promised to swiftly resolve the controversy.

“The interim superintendent is reviewing the documentation and there should be closure within the next couple of weeks,” said Wooten.

At the Sept. 10 school board meeting, Clayton High School parent Kim Winslow spoke during time reserved for public comment and voiced parents’ and students’ frustration. Jones’ supporters — clad in Clayton jerseys and T-shirts — packed the boardroom and applauded Winslow’s remarks.

“Over the last month, we have learned that other JCPS employees have been subjected to similar situations as Dr. Jones. Unfortunately, they did not have the same kind of voice standing up for them like Dr. Jones has,” said Winslow. “If we had not continued to publicize this issue and vocalize our concerns, we believe that Dr. Jones would be yet another victim of the unchecked power of the office of the superintendent.

“Dr. Jones may not be the first that this has happened to, but he needs to be the last. We ask that the board review what has happened and take the necessary actions to ensure this never happens again.”

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