Carmel High Principal put on administrative leave, parents left with few details of allegations
CARMEL, Calif. (KION-TV)- In a special meeting the Carmel Unified School District has chosen to put Carmel High School Principal Jonathan Lyons on administrative leave until the end of 2023.
Superintendent Ted Knight says after the year is concluded Lyons would be put in another position within the school district but did not disclose what that new position would be.
Lyons was put on administrative leave in December due to a mishandling of student conduct and behavior detrimental to students and staff, said Knight.
There was a special meeting held Tuesday morning and parents said they were given less than 24 hours notice of the meeting. The meeting was for “public employee discipline/dismissal/release.”
Supporters of Jonathan Lyons are frustrated with the decision to remove him as principal of Carmel High School.
Those who attended the meeting, like Lyons, think not all of the details were given.
“We don't know all the details of this case,” Phil said. “But just on paper, it looks like there's been some actions here that are there that are not. Right. And in defense of John Lyons, we just feel like there's more to this story that we're not hearing and we'd like, you know, further discussion to the community at large about it.”
Some like Meica Bruno and Tracy Henderson even feel there’s another reason for his removal.
“The reputation that Carmel had a while back, it's not there anymore,” Bruno said. “Our staff members, teachers, they're all afraid of speaking out because of retaliation, because they will get fired. And we've seen that happening.”
“There has been no education code violation, no criminal code violation,” Henderson said. “There have been people interviewed. There's been no wrongdoing found. This is straight-up retaliation. And I encourage John Lyons to file suit against the district.”
Knight responded to this thought given by the parents.
Knight says he’s asked the board and his employees…
“Please investigate that. I'm not above that. I welcome that investigation. I would love to have my name cleared and be proven by an outside investigator that's not in my chain of command, that this was in no way a retaliation, but instead was me holding an employee accountable for their failure to protect the safety of children.”
“First and foremost, my responsibility is to our children and our student's safety,” Knight said. “And so if I have claims that someone has brought forward that those claims are not being reported or not being adequately addressed, that is where I have to stand up and do the right thing, regardless of my personal feelings towards any of our employees.”
One other thing the parents KION spoke to were bothered about was a lack of transparency during this whole process.
The superintendent did understand the parents' frustrations but wanted to be sure all the information they had wouldn’t encroach on the staff or hamper the investigation.
The district released a statement after the meeting only saying the investigation is ongoing. They’re turning reports over to the Monterey County Sheriff’s Office, District Attorney, and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.
CUSD Staff, Students, and Families,
I am reaching out today to provide an update to our community on the status of Carmel High School Principal Lyons’ leave and to address rumors and false accusations within our community surrounding the leave.
Due to the seriousness of the allegations raised related to Mr. Lyons, we could not share any specific details until an initial investigation was completed. What I can share at this time is after receiving a student complaint, an internal investigation was launched based on the accusations of the mishandling of student conduct. This internal investigation uncovered behavior that is detrimental to the safety of Carmel High students and staff, and the decision to place Mr. Lyons on paid administrative leave was made pending a formal, external investigation.
Today the Board of Education met for a Special Meeting and reported out the unanimous action taken in closed session in accordance with state personnel laws to release Mr. Lyons from his current administrative position at the end of the current 2022-23 school year, pending reassignment. At this time, Mr. Lyons is legally retained as an employee of the district and will continue to be on paid administrative leave as a result of multiple serious allegations of mishandling complaints of misconduct. We anticipate being able to share further information at the conclusion of the expanded investigation which is being led by external agencies, outside of Carmel Unified.
In full transparency, I also need to let you know that these initial results of the ongoing investigation are so concerning that we are turning over our reports to the Monterey County Sheriff's Department, the Monterey County District Attorney, and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. Currently, the Monterey County Sheriff's Department is assisting the District in the ongoing investigation and questions for law enforcement should be directed to Detective Sergeant David Vargas at 831-755-3771. We are fully cooperating with the Sheriff's Department in their investigation.
Carmel Unified has, unfortunately, been plagued with a longstanding systemic issue of failure in both the reporting and investigation of employee, student and community complaints involving sexual harassment. When I was interviewing for this position two years ago, one of the concerns raised was the culture of silence and lack of seriousness and follow through, in reference to district staff and student concerns. As the Title IX Coordinator and Civil Rights Compliance Officer, I have made it clear that the district will adhere to state and federal laws concerning any issues/complaints raised by anyone within our community. We are charged with keeping our students and staff safe and I take that responsibility extremely seriously. In response to the charge the board gave, my team and I developed a comprehensive reporting and investigation procedure that includes mandatory training for administrators, the hiring of a Director of Student Services, as well as a contracted national Title IX investigator. Through these new processes, we have identified a long-standing problem within the district of not addressing concerns.
It is crucial for our community to understand that CUSD will continue to take extremely seriously the responsibility of our students’ and staff members’ safety and will not be deterred by threats, intimidation, nor lies.
If you have any additional information to share on reports or knowledge of reports made by students, staff or parents/guardians which were not adequately reported or investigated, please contact Sergeant Vargas or my office so they may be referred to investigators. Additionally, please contact me or any member of our staff if you or your student need additional support. We stand ready to assist our students and staff as we move forward through these difficult times.
Thank you for your patience and understanding as we work through this, and other serious issues, within our school district. We understand that our students, staff, and our community are in an incredibly painful situation and that it is frustrating for all involved, including when additional details and information cannot be provided. It is my hope that the whole truth will continue to be revealed and that as a district and community we can face the reality of our current and past behaviors and heal as we come together.Superintendent Ted Knight