6 students cleared in Clayton High School grade-fixing investigation

CLAYTON, N.C. (WTVD) -- Johnston County Schools Interim Superintendent Dr. Jim Causby said six of the 13 students originally reported to have not earned enough credits to graduate have been cleared.

"I cleared them today (Tuesday)," Causby said.

Causby gave the update at Tuesday night's meeting with parents wanting answers weeks after the district originally found that 13 Johnston County Public Schools students graduated without meeting minimum state requirements. The students in question were enrolled at Clayton High during the 2018-2019 school year.
Causby met with parents in an attempt to clear up confusion surrounding Johnston County Public Schools investigation into discrepancies surrounding football, finances and student graduations at Clayton High School.

Last month, former Clayton High School principal Dr. Bennett Jones took another position within the school system. Jones' reassignment came after the district launched the investigation into his school. Some parents and students felt Jones was forced out and voiced their opinions at a rally outside the school.

Causby said he doesn't know why Jones was transferred. He said there was no wrongdoing found with athletics aside from a self-reported incident that was already known.

"Your principal, as is his right to do, questioned that and basically his argument was that that transfer was arbitrary in capricious. That's a legal term that means he didn't have any reason to do it," Causby explained to parents.

Jones said he was told the investigation into grade fixing was complete in early June and no evidence of wrongdoing was found. Jones filed a grievance over the case, saying he was "defamed" and "harassed." Causby says the next step would be to hold a grievance hearing if Jones wants to continue his grievance.

Parents at the meeting said they're still concerned with how long it will take to get the school back to a sense of normalcy.

"I want to make sure as parents that we're still showing our children that you can agree to disagree," parent Niada Cradle said. "If we don't get him (Jones) back are we going to still educate our children? Are we still going to keep our community healthy? Because that's the biggest thing we need to do."

Clayton varsity football coach Hunter Jenks also resigned amid the investigation.

In August, former Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow retired after a closed-door session at a board of education meeting.
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