'He's been treated unfairly:' Hundreds rally for Clayton principal's job

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- The first day of school is Monday at Clayton High and as it stands Thursday night, the school's beloved principal will not be at the helm.

On Thursday evening at Clayton Town Square, there was a last-ditch effort by hundreds of students and parents to show their outrage over his ouster.

They shouted, "Bring Bennett back," from the center of town with the spirit of a Clayton football pep rally. All fighting to have Dr. Bennett Jones reinstated as Clayton High School's principal.

"He's been treated unfairly and the community needs to know that," said Mason Bland, a CHS sophomore.

This was not the first rally to try to save Jones' job. But this one comes just a day after the ousted principal's grievance letter to the Johnston County School Board went public.

In the 17-page letter, Jones claims Johnston Superintendent Ross Renfrow removed him as principal following a district investigation into alleged grade-fixing at CHS.

Jones said he was told the investigation was completed in early June. And that no wrongdoing was found.

But, Jones says he was then defamed, harassed, and retaliated against for questioning Renfrow -- ultimately transferred out of CHS to a district office job.

Jo wants the school board to give him his job back. He sent his thanks to the crowd of supporters gathered in Town Square.

"(Dr. Jones) wanted it to be said, he appreciates all the love of the community. And that 'I love clayton and Clayton High School,'" said CHS parent Kim Winslow, reading from an email from Jones.

After hearing Jones' version of events, parents like Alisa Coble expressed their frustration with district leadership.

"I am thoroughly disappointed in Dr. Renfrow." Coble said. "And I also feel like Dr. Jones' rights have been thoroughly violated."

CHS Junior Spalding added, "(Dr. Jones) has done so many great things for the school and we just want to keep him here. We want to know why he's leaving."

Johnston County Schools remained silent on the issue, calling it a confidential personnel matter.

It's unclear Thursday night when the school board will take up Jones' grievance letter. But the board is scheduled to meet again this upcoming Tuesday.

"We're going to keep fighting," said Winslow. "We want to fight until Dr. Jones' grievance is heard in front of the school board."
Copyright © 2021 WTVD-TV. All Rights Reserved.