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Former Manual assistant principal speaks out after losing his job

Manual High School assistant principal Vernon Jones was caught by surprise yesterday by the decision not to renew his contract for next school year, he said in a statement released today.

“I should have listened to the rumors,” he said. In it, Jones signals his intentions to remain involved in the battle over what Manual’s future will look like.

His departure from the school sparked outcry in the Manual and northeast Denver community. A community meeting organized by Manual students is planned for 2 p.m. today at a library near Manual High School.

“This action, and any intended action against Pastor Vernon Jones will NOT go unchallenged,” said one community member in an email forwarded to Chalkbeat Colorado. Jones was previously the pastor at Kinship Missionary Baptist Church in Aurora and is known by community and students as “Pastor Jones” or “P. Jones.”

The decision has some parents rethinking whether they’ll stay with the school, which has struggled with low performance and turbulent changes in leadership. District officials have already expressed concern about dropping enrollment at the school, where only 75 freshmen are expected to enroll next fall.

“Pulling him out, that takes away our connection to the community,” said Pauletta Anderson, whose daughter attends Manual.

Chalkbeat also obtained the announcement Manual principal Don Roy sent to staff that Jones would not be returning. In it, Roy acknowledges the central role Jones played in rallying community members around the school but gives few details on the rationale behind his decision.

“I made this decision after careful deliberation and evaluation,” Roy wrote. “I determined that we needed different leadership in the Assistant Principal role for the upcoming school year.”

The school has two other assistant principals who have been brought on in the past months since Roy took the reins at the school.

Here is the full text of the email:

From: Roy, Don Sent: Wednesday, June 04, 2014 12:18 PM To: Manual High Faculty Subject: Leadership team Teachers and Staff, I have decided not to renew Assistant Principal Vernon Jones’ contract for the 2014-15 school year. I made this decision after careful deliberation and evaluation, and I determined that we needed different leadership in the Assistant Principal role for the upcoming school year. I know that Mr. Jones has been a part of the Manual community for a number of years, and that many of our students, teachers and families have strong relationships with him. My door is open to anyone who has questions or concerns about this decision. I am limited in what I am able to discuss when it comes to personnel decisions, but I will do my best to answer any questions you may have. Thank you for your continued support and engagement in the Manual community. Regards, Donald Roy Principal Manual High School I am from Rochester, New York, and I play on TEAM DPS! 720-423-6300

And below is Jones’ full statement:

I spoke truth to power in a very passionate way during a community meeting and from that moment Mr. Roy began to see me as not a fit for his team. I have been placed on administrative leave and he has recommended to the DPS board that my administrative contract at Manual High School not be renewed for the 2014-2015 school year. This action did not surprise me but it saddens me because of my eight year commitment to advocating with and for scholars, colleagues, and my community, in a number of positions related to Manual. I had heard whispers within the building and from external colleagues that this was coming but after an earlier face to face meeting with Mr. Roy on May 27 I dismissed them because I trusted that we had come to an understanding and were moving forward as a team. I should have listened to the rumors. I remain resolute in my solidarity with the Manual scholars, staff, parents, and community. Our desire to self-determine, to walk and act TBOLT STRONG, remains. Still WE RISE! I remain a Manual parent and my responsibility to advocate for my children and their peers is still mine and is not dictated by one person’s opinion of my leadership fit. My heart aches but I am not deterred.