JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Jackson Public Schools have reversed the decision to terminate the Forest Hill High School band director and instead have suspended him for three months without pay.
Band director Demetri Jones says he was fired after a controversial halftime performance in Brookhaven in October. The performance included students pointing guns at other students that were supposedly dressed as SWAT team members.
Board President Dr. Jeanne Hairston and Superintendent Dr. Errick L. Greene released a statement saying:
“Regarding the incident with the Forest Hill high school band director, the Jackson Public Schools administration took decisive action in October of 2018 and responded with all available information and context, and in keeping with our expectations for professional judgement and maintaining student welfare. The Board of Trustees, having reviewed the case, has changed the termination of the band director to a three-month suspension without pay.”
“While the Board and the Administration differed on this decision, we are looking ahead, united, in our shared commitment to excellence in service to children and families even in the face of tough decisions yet to come.”
The Mississippi High School Activities Association levied sanctions against the Forest Hill High School band following the performance.
The notice of penalty issued by the Mississippi High School Activities Association, obtained exclusively by 3 On Your Side, said the band is on “restrictive probation” and cannot participate in any MHSAA-sanctioned sports or activity events for the rest of the school year.
A follow-up letter from MHSAA executive director Don Hinton clarifies that the band can play in the stands during games, though.
3 On Your Side obtained the documents through a public records request sent to Jackson Public Schools after being denied the information by both the MHSAA -- citing policy -- and JPS spokesperson Sherwin Johnson, who refused to provide the notice of penalty despite being asked multiple times.
The non-profit organization that regulates high school athletics throughout the state also fined Forest Hill $2,500 for what it called “flagrant conduct inconsistent with a wholesome band program.”
On Oct. 4 during a halftime performance in Brookhaven, a skit showed students pointing fake guns at other students.
JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene said the skit was from the movie John Q, depicting a man holding others hostage in a hospital.
The Forest Hill performance came just days after police say Marquis Flowers shot and killed two Brookhaven police officers.
We will continue to follow this developing story.