The following letter was sent to Dear JCPS by a former Manual student. We are publishing it with permission from the author, amid what appears to be emerging as a systemic and pervasive pattern of discrimination that has been allowed to fester in a number of our schools under the previous administration. By sharing this student’s testimony with our followers, our hope is that this type of behavior can be eliminated from our schools once and for all, so no other students or staff will be subjected to similar treatment. Dear JCPS encourages JCPS to take swift action and send a clear message that discrimination, in any form, will not be tolerated.
Dear JCPS Board,
Various posts have been made, regarding DuPont Manual Highschool Principal Jerry Mayes. Considering the current climate in our country, as acts of abuse (both psychological and physical, as well as abuse of power), oppression and corruption are unveiled left and right, from the political arena to the entertainment industry, people are realizing that, in order to move forward into a world of justice and equality, it is necessary to speak up. We MUST speak up. Those who have been oppressed and silenced refuse to do so any longer. Individuals who have stood to the side and silently witnessed injustice are now speaking out against those who manipulate an archaic system that caters only to a very specific demographic, ignoring the rest of the population who, according to that minority “elite”, matter less than they do.
It is imperative we do this within our schools, as well. I am a former student of Jerry Mayes’, and though my experience with him was not to the degree of abuse and bullying that it was for Casey Hoke and Jahne Brown (both brave individuals I am proud to say are fellow alums), my experience was still, in its own right, an experience of bullying and abuse of power. Jerry Mayes’ treatment of those students who, borrowing words from a fellow alum, he felt were useful to him (and these students were mostly somehow involved in athletics), versus those who were not involved, or particularly enthusiastic about Manual sports was absolutely blatant. Many on his football team can be quoted as saying something along the lines of “He was great to me, but awful to so many others.” Anyone who fell outside of the boundaries of what would have been considered “traditional” was targeted. He was a bully. He loved enforcing and showcasing his power, the way one would casually play with a laser pen and a cat. Sometimes, these shows of power came out of nowhere, unprovoked, and it disturbed me greatly when I heard that he had actually been chosen as the principal of what is supposed to be one of the top schools in the country. When I heard about the case which is currently being reviewed by JCPS, and when I read the stories of Casey and Jahne on this message board, I was outraged. But I was not surprised.
It has come to my attention that a text message has been circulating within the JCPS community, entreating those who support Jerry Mayes to submit character references. I have no doubt that he was great to those who will come to his defense. My issue with most of these individuals is that they completely dismiss the testimonies of those who have negative things to say about Mayes. They call the experiences of Hoke and Brown “illegitimate” in the text, which is proof that, unfortunately, the outdated, good-old-boys-club mentality is still a part of the JCPS community infrastructure, where those at the top look out only for themselves, and not for the well-being of the students. This combination of discriminating thought and toxic masculinity is a rancid, festering block on the road to progress, and it is not only students who have been effected, but also hard-working JCPS staff, many of whom fear retaliation, should they speak out. I have been told by those who have worked with Mayes as educators and administrators that he also abuses his power among his staff, using intimidation, manipulation and bullying as a weapon. Am I surprised? Not in the least.
I, myself, personally have nothing to win or lose by speaking or staying silent on this matter. I do not work for JCPS. I do not have children. I do not even live in Kentucky any longer. However, the thought that, after all these years, and after all the progress that we’ve achieved in the way we think and relate to one another, these children, some of the best and brightest in the city of Louisville are experiencing this level of unapologetic ignorance, and are still feeling unsafe and powerless under the reign of this man makes me incredibly sad. We can do better than this. Mayes has those in his corner, calling for justice for him. I’m calling for justice for the students of DuPont Manual. They deserve better than this. Below is the circulating email in question. I don’t know if Dear JCPS will allow it to be published here, but I will attempt. Please, please, please, JCPS Board. Look into this. Really look into this.
Justice for The Students of DMHS
Greetings – thank you in advance for taking a moment to review this urgent message.
You have been identified as an acquaintance of Jerry Mayes – current Principal at duPont Manual High School. We are writing in an effort to rally support on behalf of our dear friend. We are hoping you would take a brief moment to write a letter on Jerry’s behalf.
Simply put, we are looking for character references based on your personal experiences with Jerry. These would be greatly appreciated as we look to overcome some awful (illegitimate) allegations. Additionally, if you were to know of anyone else that has or had a relationship (whether personal or professional) with Jerry, please pass this message along. We need all the support we can get.
Please send all letters to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you so much for your time and support.
The views expressed here are those of the author. If you or someone you know has had a similar experience with leadership in a JCPS school, you are encouraged to submit a letter using our open letter form.