The following email was sent to @JCPSKY Superintendent on November 8, with a copy to Dear JCPS. 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 parent’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.
To Whom It May Concern:
There is some very important news located at dearjcps.com. Please visit that web site to see the 2 posts that have been made within the last several days alleging serious misconduct by the principal of duPont Manual High School. These posts have been made by former students and/or parents. They feel comfortable providing their names without fear of retaliation. I am a current parent who needs to remain anonymous for my child’s sake, but I have some information to add to these posts.
Both of these stories caught my attention because they talk about a toxic environment. I agree that Principal Jerry Mayes sets this toxic environment and allows it to exist. As a parent I see on a regular basis that he rules with an iron fist. Intimidation and the classic “old boy” network thrives here. As a mom I feel like a second-class citizen who is spoken to in a condescending way. Mr. Mayes creates a misogynistic environment where females feel less respected and our role is limited to only certain areas within the school. Unless you are part of his prized inner circle (of certain parents and teachers), you are meaningless. When I read the post talking about the pet names he has used I wasn’t that surprised. Demeaning names are classic tools used by men who try to use their power to belittle women.
Mr. Mayes rules by intimidation. He takes advantage of his position of authority (power) to get others to fall into line. A very clear message is sent to students (and parents) upon arrival at Manual – “you are lucky to be here, don’t do anything to mess up, don’t make waves, don’t question our authority, we can get rid of you because there are lots more who want to get in here.” New posters were made last year that addressed the JCPS push to curb bullying. I remember seeing these in the hall thinking “oh look, Mr. Mayes’s picture is on there, hmm, I wonder why they decided to put the biggest bully of all on the poster.”
Another way that the environment is toxic is that he perpetuates a very Christian-based tone to rule among administrators and faculty. Last year my kid told me that an administrator told a student that he was “straying from the path of Jesus” when he did something wrong. This year my kid sits in a class where the teacher often expresses her homophobic ideas and she scolds kids who don’t want to stand for the pledge of allegiance each morning. My student had a different teacher last year that often talked about her own religious thoughts and ideas during class. This is a public school where religion and religious beliefs have no place at all!
Thank you for listening. I hope you investigate these stories. The public needs to know what is going on inside the walls of Manual. Sensitivity training cannot cure these problems.
A concerned JCPS Parent
The views expressed here are those of the author. Because a copy of this email was also sent to district leaders, its contents are a matter of public record, subject to discovery under the Kentucky Open Records Act. We share it with our followers because transparency and accountability within our district remain our primary focus. 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.