The Shakerite

Search Firm Fails to Inform District of Principal Candidate’s 2010 Charges, Later Dropped

Gene T. Jones, lone finalist for high school principalship, faced misdemeanor, felony charges after woman broke into his home

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Gene T. Jones, the top candidate for high school principal, was charged with misdemeanor assault and felony property destruction charges in 2010 after a woman broke into his home. "It was found to be untrue," said Jones. "It was dismissed and expunged from my record."

Roanoke Free Press
Gene T. Jones, the top candidate for high school principal, was charged with misdemeanor assault and felony property destruction charges in 2010 after a woman broke into his home. “It was found to be untrue,” said Jones. “It was dismissed and expunged from my record.”

The district found out yesterday that Gene T. Jones, the top candidate for high school principal, had misdemeanor assault and felony property destruction charges filed against him and dropped in 2010.

“Mr. Jones had actually divulged all this information to [Hazard, Young, Attea and Associates],” said John Morris, president of the Shaker Heights Teachers Association. However, “they did not include this information on his paperwork that went to the interviewing committee.”

According to Morris, who was a member of the interview committee, the charges stemmed from a 2010 incident in which a woman broke into Jones’ Norfolk, VA home.

The district announced HYA would lead the national search to replace Principal Michael Griffith April 16, three days after Griffith announced his resignation after 15 years in the position. Shaker has worked with HYA in the past to hire new staff, including Superintendent Gregory C. Hutchings, Jr. HYA is “the nation’s largest education executive search firm,” according to the group’s website, having worked for more than 1,000 districts and organizations in 35 years.

According to Morris, this oversight was an isolated incident. “We have had candidates that HYA brought us before where these occurrences have been divulged as part of the paperwork,” he said. “HYA should have transmitted that information to the district.”

At the time of the incident that precipitated the charges, Jones was the executive director of high schools for the Norfolk Public School District. A Norfolk woman broke into Jones’ home April 25, 2010. According to Morris, Jones tried to fend off the intruder, who was “probably mentally unstable.” Jones accused her of assault that day, swearing out a warrant for her arrest; she filed allegations against Jones three days later.

Jones confirmed that the woman “did forcibly enter the home,” but would not comment on the incident otherwise. “It was found to be untrue,” he said. “It was dismissed and expunged from my record.”

I really lay the blame on HYA.”

— John Morris

Jones lost his job at Norfolk when the district downsized in 2010 and became principal of William Fleming High School in Roanoke, VA afterwards. In 2013, he moved to George Washington High School, the third-largest and most diverse high school in Philadelphia City Schools. George Washington High School offers Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and career preparatory classes. During Jones’ tenure at the high school, students’ SAT scores increased by an average of 114 point through a partnership Jones began with College Possible, an organization that helps promising low-income students enter college. At William Fleming High School, Jones doubled AP course enrollment and raised the graduation rate from 69 to 80 percent.

Morris does not think the charges should affect Jones’ candidacy as head of the high school. He said having past legal incidents is “not atypical, even for a high-profile candidate.” However, he worries HYA’s oversight will negatively affect Jones. “It could have an effect on the perceptions of the community,” he said.

Hutchings could not be reached for comment at the time of publication. Morris said Hutchings told him about Jones’ charges “immediately after” a community meet-and-greet with Jones in the high school’s large auditorium June 3. The event, planned to run from 7-8 p.m., ended at 8:20 p.m.

Morris said Shaker’s administration is working with HYA to respond to the search firm’s mistake. “I know that the central office is in communication with [HYA] as we speak on a statement from HYA,” he said. “I expect them to come up with a pretty extensive statement on their oversight.” He said the statement should appear on shaker.org tomorrow morning or early afternoon.

“I really lay the blame on HYA,” said Morris. “I hope HYA apologizes to the community — and Mr. Jones, frankly.”

 

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3 Comments

3 Responses to “Search Firm Fails to Inform District of Principal Candidate’s 2010 Charges, Later Dropped”

  1. Helga Dimitrov on June 4th, 2015 10:11 am

    Good job, Shakerite. Mr. Jones is a solid candidate, but his disclosure should have been passed along to the district. Why does Shaker continue to hire this firm? Last year’s middle school principal search featured a finalist who was being replaced as principal of the Atlanta high school he led, and that fact was news to the Shaker administration as well.

  2. Dinah on June 4th, 2015 11:28 am

    Why did he have to withdraw if charges were dropped?

  3. Mike on December 12th, 2015 5:21 am

    This is the same man who was just sacked in Philly over the massive amount of unchecked violence occurring at George Washington. Definitely not what Shaker needs.

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Search Firm Fails to Inform District of Principal Candidate’s 2010 Charges, Later Dropped