Superintendent Holds Too Much Power Over Personnel Matters Parent Tells School Board Members

By: Scott Bolejack

In Johnston County, the superintendent of schools holds too much power over personnel matters, a Clayton High School parent told the Board of Education.

Speaking toward the end of the September school board meeting, Kim Winslow noted that under Policy 5260, “the superintendent may, based on the best interests of the school system, transfer any employee from one position to another.”

Such a transfer happened to former Clayton High School principal Bennett Jones, whom former superintendent Ross Renfrow moved to the central office just says before the start of this school year. The transfer came amid an ongoing investigation into claims of academic fraud designed to benefit Clayton High athletes.

Many in the Clayton High community opposed Bennett’s transfer, and Winslow said the “best interests of the school system” should include the best interests of students, teachers and parents, not just the best interests of the superintendent.

“The school board is responsible for the office of the superintendent,” Winslow said. “Unfortunately, as we see it and as it currently stands, the office of the superintendent has some unchecked and unlimited powers.”

Speaking on behalf parents and students, Winslow called on the school board to change Policy 5260 to provide checks on the superintendent’s power. She called also for changes to policy 5240, which governs employee grievances.

That policy allows employees to file grievances, with the superintendent acting, if needed, as an arbiter between an employee and his or her supervisor. But what happens when an employee’s beef is with the superintendent Winslow asked.

In such cases, she said, the superintendent should recuse himself from the process and allow the employee in question to appeal directly to the school board.

Interim superintendent James Causby has pledged to look into the Clayton High matter. In a recent statement, Causby said, “There is a strong need to quickly make some final decisions on the Clayton High School principal situation, and I will give the investigation an in-depth look and make a decision on the appropriate path forward as quickly as possible.”