Ex-Clayton principal appears at student-led rally held for him

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CLAYTON, N.C. (WNCN) — Clayton High School students won’t stop fighting to get their principal back. 

On Wednesday, the students rallied together to get signatures for a petition to reinstate Doctor Bennett Jones as principal.

Jones was made principal of Clayton High School in 2016. 

This week, the district announced he was moved to a lead administrative role. No reason was provided.  

“Students are upset. There’s really no reason why he should’ve been gone,” said student Sam Michetti. 

Students gathered at the school to show support with chants and printed shirts. 

“If you were having trouble just day-to-day life, he was there,” said student Sam Gill. 

“He turned Clayton High School into more than just a high school. He made it a community, somewhere where you want to be,” said student Hannah Riley.

“He was a role model, he was one who cared about the students,” said student Rhett Barrett. 

When the gathering moved to a nearby park, Jones surprised students by showing up. 

“I haven’t shut the door on anything,” said Jones. “If you haven’t heard nothing else I’ve said for three years, I want you to know this, there is nothing our God can’t do.”

Jones told students he’ll keep fighting and will always support them. He then offered hugs and words of encouragement. 

“I am and always will be all in and that doesn’t go away because a job puts me in a different location,” said Jones.

Students said seeing Jones gives them hope the administration will listen to them. 

“We had hoped for something like that and it ended up happening and it really shows you want something go get it, anything can happen,” said student Markus Coats who helped organize the event. 

Jones told CBS 17 he couldn’t comment on the situation.

“We’re going to do everything we can to get our principal back,” said student Stephen Lines who helped organize the event. 

The district wouldn’t comment on why his position changed, citing personnel reasons. 

“Bennett Jones is Clayton High School,” said parent Kim Winslow. “He has transformed this place into a place kids want to be, where staff wants to be. There’s no other principal in this county or state that would get this kind of reaction.”

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