Fayette County Public Schools responds to NAACP letter questioning principal’s suspension

Dunbar High School's principal on administrative leave

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – Fayette County Public Schools has released a statement in response to allegations of procedure mishandling and questions the NAACP branch in Lexington has regarding the suspension of Dunbar High School’s principal. Principal Marlon Ball was placed on administrative leave after the death of athletic director Jason Howell in early November.

The Fayette County coroner is investigating Howell’s death as a suicide. The NAACP says a letter was sent to parents about the death and the principal’s leave. NAACP president Whit Whitaker released a letter with two questions.

“This calls into our first question of whether the District’s email was the spark that began the rumors of unfairly tying the principal to the death of the athletic director,” Whitaker wrote.

Lisa Deffendall, with Fayette County Public Schools, issued a statement in response:  “We value and respect the NAACP as a community partner and critical friend. Unfortunately, the statement they released earlier today is inaccurate,” she wrote.  “Pertaining to the first question raised by the NAACP, there was no district email to families at Dunbar in which the death of the athletic director and the administrative leave of the principal were both mentioned. Those two incidents were linked solely in online comments by private citizens and subsequent media coverage.”

The second question from the NACCP reads; “The second question whether earlier intervention by FCPS district could have addressed alleged complaints against the principal prior to the death of the educator.”

FCPS response to the second question;

“Regarding the second question about earlier intervention to address alleged complaints against the Dunbar principal, district actions concerning personnel issues are not a matter of public record. The NAACP would not be privy to steps the district had taken prior to placing an individual on administrative leave.”

The full statement and letter from the NAACP are below.

Fayette County Public Schools Response:

We value and respect the NAACP as a community partner and critical friend. Unfortunately, the statement they released earlier today is inaccurate.

 

Pertaining to the first question raised by the NAACP, there was no district email to families at Dunbar in which the death of the athletic director and the administrative leave of the principal were both mentioned. Those two incidents were linked solely in online comments by private citizens and subsequent media coverage.

 

Further, Superintendent Demetrus Liggins personally contacted members of the media to express concerns about their coverage. Requests for clarifications were denied.

 

Regarding the second question about earlier intervention to address alleged complaints against the Dunbar principal, district actions concerning personnel issues are not a matter of public record. The NAACP would not be privy to steps the district had taken prior to placing an individual on administrative leave.

 

It is important to note that when a district employee is placed on administrative leave, it is not an action of discipline on the part of the district nor an indication of wrongdoing. Rather, it is done to remove and protect an individual so a fair and thorough investigation can be conducted to determine the facts.

 

FCPS will continue to partner with the NAACP to advance our shared commitment to supporting the success of all students.

 

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