duPont Manual High School | File Photo

This story has been updated.

The monthslong investigation into now-former duPont Manual High School Principal Jerry Mayes found multiple substantiated incidents of unprofessional conduct, according to the six-page investigation report.

JCPS Superintendent Marty Pollio reassigned Mayes from his role at Kentucky’s top public high school to a noninstructional role last Friday as a result of the investigation, according to a disciplinary letter. Insider obtained the full investigation via an open records request.

Law firm Middleton Reutlinger, which conducted the investigation, based the investigation on complaints from students, parents and alumni alleging racist, transphobic and intimidating behavior, lawyer Mark Fenzel said in the report. 

“Mayes exhibits a trend of offensive, inappropriate, unprofessional, and racially charged comments,” according to a performance evaluation conference summary focused on the investigation’s findings.

“By his own admission, these (comments) are unprofessional and need to stop,” wrote Fenzel, who interviewed around 40 people throughout the investigation, according to the report.

The report that led to the demotion focused on three substantiated allegations: Discussing personnel matters with students, use of offensive language, and inappropriate comments during a hiring process.

Mayes used offensive or inappropriate language multiple times while acting in a professional capacity, according to the summary.

He admitted to using the term “wigger” multiple times, including to Weston and in a conference with a parent and Nicole Finley, an African American teacher. Mayes said that he “had so many African American friends” in high school, he was called a “wigger,” according to the investigative report. 

He also admitted to using the term “Indian giver” in a staff meeting and immediately apologized, according to the summary. Upon seeing an African American student at a school event, Mayes complained and said, “This looks like a National Geographic photo shoot.”

“I do not believe that he intends to discriminate against minorities or students of different sexual orientation,” Fenzel said in the report, adding that Mayes and his wife have adopted minority children. There were several examples of positive interactions between the former principal and minority students, Fenzel said.

In addition to criticizing Chief Equity Officer John Marshall to students, the investigation found Mayes had “shared inappropriate personnel information” about a staff member to another staff member on more than one occasion.

Staff members spoke of multiple incidents of Mayes oversharing personal information, including saying a teacher was “off her meds.” Mayes denied most of these incidents. 

The trend continued even after he was reprimanded for his criticism of Marshall. Marshall, who was interviewed during the investigation, said Mayes had also openly criticized him a few weeks before the tape came out and apologized.

“Mayes apologized, but then he turned around and did the same thing — this time to students, after apologizing the first time,” the report said.

The third allegation said Mayes had asked staff if they “wanted a man or woman” during a hiring process, a question that the summary said could be viewed as “discriminatory.”

JCPS Assistant Superintendent Brad Weston met twice with Mayes in April to discuss a draft report about the investigation, where he challenged “several inaccuracies” in the report at that time, the summary said. An updated report was discussed in late May.

Insider Louisville reached out to Mayes for comment but did not immediately hear back.

Jerry Mayes

According to his reassignment letter, Mayes will work in the C.B. Young Service Center. His salary will be frozen at the rate it was as principal, more than $150,000 a year, until the end of June 2019. After that, he will make the amount of a teacher with 25 years of experience, around $83,000.

Mayes had been under investigation since October 2017 when a secret recording of a conversation he had with two students about race was publicized. In the hourlong recording, he compared the oppression he faced as Protestant to racism against African Americans and downplayed the students’ concerns.

“In today’s world, it is thought inappropriate by most, to think that a white male has suffered discrimination to the same degree as African Americans,” Fenzel wrote.

Mayes received swift criticism from students and community members after the tape’s publication, including a student-led sit-in.

Students and parents continued to speak out at board of education meetings in the spring as the investigation continued without updates.

JCPS community members had mixed reactions to Pollio’s decision last Friday. Quintez Brown, who was the president of Manual’s Black Student Union when the investigation began, thanked Pollio for the decision on social media.

Supporters of the former principal said he had done nothing wrong and was “set up.” Social media users criticized one JCPS teacher, Tammy Crowder, after she tweeted that she was “afraid to be white in America” that day. Crowder resigned from her job as an ESL teacher at the Newcomer Academy Wednesday, according to a JCPS spokeswoman. 

Insider reached out to Crowder for comment about her resignation but did not immediately hear back.

On Wednesday morning, JCPS announced that retired JCPS official Kirk Lattimore will act as Manual’s interim principal until a permanent replacement is selected.

Editor’s Note: Insider Louisville uploaded a version of the report with the names of those who spoke to the investigators redacted. This post was also updated Wednesday night with news of Crowder’s resignation and to clarify how much teaching experience is necessary to make Mayes’ new salary.

Before joining Insider Louisville, Krauth was a multiplatform reporter at TechRepublic, where she wrote news stories and features about the intersection of technology and business. Krauth is a graduate of the University of Louisville, where she was an award-winning editor of The Louisville Cardinal and obtained a degree in investigative journalism, with a minor in Russian studies. She completed a prestigious Dow Jones data internship at the Austin American-Statesman last summer. Email Olivia at [email protected]


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