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Schools reinstate Clayton High principal

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SMITHFIELD — Johnston County Public Schools Interim Superintendent Jim Causby announced Monday he has reinstated Bennett Jones as principal of Clayton High School on a probationary basis.

“As superintendent, I have invested much time reviewing the matter at Clayton High School and the grievance filed by Dr. Bennett Jones,” Causby said in a statement. The individuals handling the investigation acted in a fair and appropriate manner, and, as a result of the review, numerous serious issues concerning the operations at the school were identified.”

Causby said he’s reached two separate decisions after meeting with Jones and Clayton High stakeholders.

“I have decided to return Dr. Jones to Clayton High School as principal effective Monday, Oct. 14,” the superintendent said. “Dr. Jones will be on a probationary basis during the 2019-20 school year with the task of addressing all issues revealed during the review. I have presented him with specific requirements that must be met to my satisfaction. His achievement or lack of achievement of those requirements will determine my future decisions on his employment and assignment.”

Causby held an Oct. 1 hearing on Jones’ grievance and said he would render a decision within five business days. While reinstating Jones, Causby rejected Jones’ grievance and cleared former Superintendent Ross Renfrow of any wrongdoing.

“I have ruled against all areas of Dr. Jones’ grievance against former superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow,” said Causby. “I am hopeful that Dr. Jones, the Clayton High School team and the Clayton community can work together to provide Clayton High School students an exemplary education.”


Renfrow transferred Jones to a central office position on Aug. 12. Jones currently serves as lead administrator for Johnston County Public Schools’ Choice Plus program and filed a grievance in an effort to return to his former job.

The switch came without explanation. Jones’ reassignment led to students and parents creating a “Bring Bennett Back” movement in which rallies were held, a social media campaign was launched and the popular principal’s supporters packed the Johnston County Board of Education’s August and September meetings.

Jones’ transfer followed a summer-long investigation of allegations that school officials changed a football player’s grades to maintain his academic eligibility to take the field for the Comets.

In his Aug. 13 resignation letter, former head football coach Hunter Jenks said Renfrow met with him and told him the investigation had not implicated the football program in any wrongdoing.

Causby started work as interim superintendent on Sept. 3 after Renfrow resigned as Johnston County’s top public school administrator on Aug. 27.