13 Clayton High students graduated without meeting minimum requirements, grade-fixing investigation finds

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Thirteen Johnston County Public Schools students graduated without meeting minimum state requirements, according to the school district.

The students were enrolled at Clayton High School in the 2018-2019 school year.

They received their high school diploma without getting 22 credits, the minimum required for graduates in North Carolina. JCPS requires graduates to have 28 credits; that requirement was obviously not met either.

JCPS said it reported the information to the NC Department of Public Instruction on Sept. 13.

The district is contacting each student involved and will provide resources to help them get the required credits so they can keep their high school diploma.

"I regret this situation with these students and assure them that JCPS will do all that we can to provide them every opportunity to meet these graduation requirements," Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby said.

JCPS's previous superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow retired during a closed door board of education meeting in August.

The discovery of the incorrect graduations came as part of the ongoing review of graduation data at Clayton High School.

"I was shocked," said Karen Brooks, a parent. "I mean, I was really totally flabbergasted. This can't be happening. I'm totally shocked and I just can't believe."

Clayton High School's previous principal, Dr. Bennett Jones, was removed before the start of the school year and placed in another position within the school system.

Parents and students have held several rallies over the past several weeks in support of Jones. They say he was treated unfairly.

"I cannot imagine the principal knowing what's going on and allowing it to happen," Brooks said.

Jones himself filed a grievance to the Johnston County Board of Education saying he was "defamed" and "harassed" ahead of being reassigned.

"I know the culture that Bennett Jones brought to this school and I've seen the huge change in the kids," said parent Bill Kearns. "They can recover. The kids are already in their classes and doing well. But it's going to leave a stain on the community."
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