The Truth Is Hard For Some Of My Colleagues To Comprehend, School Board Member Says
Johnston County Public School officials are conducting an internal investigation into the athletic program at Clayton High School.
Superintendent Dr. Ross Renfrow has confirmed an investigation is currently underway and is being lead by Chief of Human Capital Brian Vetrano.
On June 3rd, JoCoReport.com received an email from a whistleblower who made allegations of 8 policy and recruiting violations at Clayton High. School board member Ronald Johnson said he received a similar email around June 10th and immediately notified Dr. Renfrow. School officials would not provide a copy of the email they received but JoCoReport believes it is similar, if not identical, to the one we received. A second whistleblower email was received by JoCoReport on June 18th.
The allegations in the emails we received include possible violations of NC High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) rules involving athletic eligibility and the changing of grades of one or more student athletics.
Specifically, allegations a football player with a failing grade and ineligible to play, was given credit for passing 8 classes in a semester when there were only 4 class periods. With the passing grades, the student’s GPA improved enough to become eligible to play.
Other allegations involve the changing of grades of student athletes, recruiting players from other Johnston County Public Schools, and practice violations during “dead” periods.
One school employee reportedly notified a superior about the incidents several weeks ago. When no action was taken, they reportedly resigned due to their frustration.
“As you know, this situation is currently under review and may involve personnel,” Dr. Renfrow said. “This review may take some time and we will contact you later concerning the review. At this time, we are unable to comment.”
James Alverson, a spokesperson for the NCHSAA, said policy prevents the organization from saying whether any school is under investigation. Alverson referred our questions about possible violations to Johnston County School officials.
JoCoReport reached out to Clayton High Head Football Coach Hunter Jenks for a comment. As of our news deadline, he had not responded. Whether these allegations are substantiated remain to be seen, but the investigation into the allegations has been underway since last week, we have confirmed.
School Board Member Demands Truthfulness
Johnson, the school board member who received the tip and forward it to Dr. Renfrow last week, spoke with JoCoReport.com exclusively this morning (Thursday). Mr. Johnson, a Clayton resident, says an unnamed senior level school official and a fellow board member are now blaming him for reporting the allegations he received.
“I was contacted by an employee who alleged recruiting activity and policy violations had occurred. I took the information to the Board and directed the school system to investigate, because that is the right thing to do,” Johnson said.
“Unfortunately, instead of seeking out the truth, a senior level employee and board member are using this as an opportunity to tell those being investigated I can’t be trusted, portraying me as the one responsible for the investigation. My allegiance will ALWAYS be with the truth and I think that’s a little hard for some of my colleagues to comprehend.”
“From day one, when I was made aware of these allegations I have only demanded honesty. I would like to think most of us still have morals, values, and character; that would lead to us embracing the truth.”
“When employees at Johnston County Schools report allegations of wrong doing, and your first reaction as an elected official is to punish the people reporting the allegations, without an investigation, it’s unlawful, unethical, and reprehensible. People elect board members to do the right thing, not to punish the people who come to us for help.”
“I had the chance to attend the Clayton High School graduation. The students appear to love their principal, coaches, and school. I sincerely appreciate what all of the coaching staff does for these kids. No one becomes an educator for selfish reasons, and everyone’s concern here should be the students.”
“However, there’s been accusations and those accusations will be investigated. If no laws have been broken, I expect everyone involved to be publicly exonerated. However, if laws have been broken and policies violated, I expect everyone involved to be held accountable. As a coach and leader, you preach accountability to your players. As a board member, we should expect the public to do the same thing, hold us accountable. If I didn’t demand the truth, it would be misleading and betraying the public and that’s not something I’m willing to do.”
Tracie Zukowski, another school board member from Clayton, declined to comment on the investigation, referring to Dr. Renfrow’s response that the allegations were currently being reviewed.