MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In his explosive resignation letter to Shelby County School officials, the former Trezevant High School principal describes collusion among district officials and school employees, and an unruly “adult culture” that makes employees and students unmanageable.
FOX13 has obtained survellance video from a source that appears to show students breaking into Trezevant High School with keys former Principal Ronnie Mackin claims were given to them by school staff.
FOX13 previously obtained photos of Mackin's vandalized SUV, which he says was spray painted on school property in February. The images, according to Mackin, shine a light on the disorderly conditions described to school officials.
As a member of the district’s “Innovation Zone” program, Trezevant is among the lowest-performing five percent of schools in the state.
Mackin, the former principal at Raleigh-Egypt Middle School, said he was assigned to Trezevant High School in 2016 to improve the conditions and “hold people accountable.” He said he uncovered “illegal and unethical wrong doings,” but he claims district leaders were more interested in hiding his findings than fixing them.
“I will not continue to work in an environment that allows district leadership to collude, interfere and influence due process in order to protect employees tied by long standing acquaintance, sexual relationships, and fraternal/sorority affiliations from being disciplined fairly,” Mackin wrote in the letter.
The principal self-reported grade discrepancies last fall, which launched an investigation by Shelby County School district officials and the Tennessee Secondary School Athletic Association.
SCS’s investigation of the grading scandal eventually led to the firing of school secretary Shirley Quinn, and a 5-day suspension for former Head Football Coach Teli White. The TSSAA cleared the football team, clearing away for their second championship title in two years.
In his resignation letter, Mackin said he received threats and his car was vandalized after he launched the investigation of the academic scandal that implicated the academics of “high-profile athletes.”
Mackin accused teachers at the school of encouraging students to vandalize the car on National Signing Day, the day high school students commit to college football programs.
“We had several students come forward and state that two teachers had convinced the two senior football players to vandalize my suburban and then provided them with their classroom keys to re-enter the building, black and gold spray paint, and safe passage back into the classroom,” Mackin said.
The vandalism points to another issue Mackin discusses in his explosive letter, as he describes recent break-ins at the school. He claims students are given keys by disgruntled current and former employees, and that the district doesn’t adequately limit access to the school, putting security at risk.
While his car was vandalized during the National Signing Day event, Mackin said Coach White “created tension among the parents and student-athletes” and “embarrassed” the community. The principal claims he fired White the same day, on Feb. 2.
In the letter, Mackin said one week after he fired White, an unnamed district leader wanted to protect White, and get him “into a better situation.” He said the district leader created a “negative image of my leadership and ability to manage my own personnel.”
White accepted the job as football coach at Melrose High School in March. He told FOX13 he left Trezevant on his own, and one source with Shelby County Schools said White was not fired from Trezevant, despite Mackin’s allegations.
Shelby County School officials released a statement that painted Mackin as a disgruntled employee following the release of the letter. The statement read in full:
SCS received Ronnie Mackin’s letter concurrent with the letter being provided to the media. The letter’s import is clouded by Mackin’s prior demand that SCS pay him 2 years of severance pay, and his inability to provide names and facts to support many of his most defamatory allegations.
Any claims of questionable practices by current or former staff members at Trezevant High School and SCS that were reported to district leaders have been investigated or are currently under investigation. Should any evidence support wrongdoing by an employee, we certainly want that information brought to light so he or she may receive appropriate discipline.
SCS remains strongly committed to providing the families at Trezevant High a high-quality, positive and supportive school culture, which is why the District announced additional resources, funds and new leadership for Trezevant earlier this year.
Mackin said he hopes the claims in his letter are investigated “to the fullest extent possible,” and he says he has evidence he’ll provide that prove his allegations.
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