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Manual High School second-in-command to depart

When students return next year to Denver’s struggling Manual High School, there will be another familiar face missing: assistant principal Vernon Jones.

Manual principal Don Roy, who took over the position in January, met with staff earlier today to announce his decision not to renew Jones’ contract for next year, district officials confirmed. The departure will be the latest in a series of high-profile changes at the embattled school, including the firing of Roy’s predecessor after reports of conflict with the district and dropping test scores. That departure also signaled the end of some aspects of the school’s unique model, including its extended year and its week-long student trips.

The move deprives Manual of one of its most vocal advocates. Jones has been at the center of much of the furor over the embattled school, speaking out against a proposed plan for the school’s future at a recent meeting and helping to organize a group of staff and students to design an alternate plan.

It also clears the way for Roy to assert his own vision for the troubled school, where district officials installed him after losing confidence in his predecessor. Jones argued against the district’s intervention, telling Denver superintendent Tom Boasberg last month at a public meeting, “We thought we had a chance to self-determine. You took it from us.”

District officials announced that the school, which has seen multiple transformations with little change to academic results, would face yet another substantial overhaul in the coming years. Last month, they presented a plan to combine ninth grade classes with nearby East High School and turn Manual’s tenth through 12th grades into a career and technical academy. After uproar from both school communities, the district delayed any decision on the school’s future by a year.

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