The Black Student Union at DuPont Manual High School is calling for that school’s principal, Jerry Mayes, to be fired.
The call comes less than a week after Insider Louisville first reported that Mayes had been reprimanded for comments he made that were demeaning to people of color and a transgender student.
Those comments, made in a private meeting with two African-American students, were recorded and distributed to local media outlets by a local social justice activist.
The student group said it was planning a sit-in protest for early Tuesday morning to highlight Mayes’ comments. In a message posted to Twitter on Monday, the group said, “it is not the role of students to bear the emotional labor for Mayes to grow as a person.”
Jefferson County Public Schools reprimanded Mayes over comments he made to the students, who had come to him to discuss a football coach who told student trainers they were barred from kneeling during the national anthem.
During the conversation, Mayes claimed some NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police violence against African-Americans were jumping on a “bandwagon,” claimed he’s lost jobs because he is white, and compared his difficulties growing up Protestant in a Catholic community to injustices committed against African-Americans.
Mayes also complained about efforts to hire more African-American teachers at Manual, saying: “I’d love to. But would you all want me to hire an African-American teacher because they’re African-American, or do you want me to hire the best teacher?”
In a statement issued by JCPS, Mayes apologized, saying he was recorded without his knowledge. He said he is “deeply committed to diversity and inclusion,” and that in the conversation he was trying to “challenge my students to broaden their perspectives on such issues. In the rush of this conversation, I may not have always communicated exactly as I might have hoped. I believe that the sum substance of what I said in that conversation, however inartfully I may have said it, is consistent with my commitments to diversity and inclusion. I regret that anyone may have a contrary impression.”
The website “Dear JCPS” has also published accounts from parents and Manual alumni in recent days criticizing Mayes over derogatory comments toward people of color and a transgender student.
In a post on that site, former Manual student Casey Hoke, who is transgender, alleged that Mayes asked inappropriate questions.
“He asked what I had done to my body ‘anatomically,’” Hoke wrote. “I asked him for what purpose this served and he really didn’t have any other answer than ‘if I get in trouble for you using the restroom.’ He probed me for answers about what was under my clothing.”
Mayes also apologized to students during a forum held by the Black Student Union on Friday.