Monday, October 15, 2018

Band Director Fired, Forest Hill Fined

Forest Hill band director Demtri Jones said he was fired by JPS Superintendent Dr. Errick Greene on Friday.  Mr. Jones revealed the firing today on Facebook, in an interview with local social media influencer Othor Cain.   The loss of the band director is not the only problem facing Forest Hill High School.  The Mississippi High School Activities Association fined the school $2,500 and suspended the band from all MHSAA activities.



A volcano of controversy erupted when members of the Forest Hill band performed a skit where several students dressed in scrubs pointed replicas of AK-47s at other students dressed as SWAT team members during the halftime performance at Brookhaven High School on October 5.  The skit was based on a scene in the 2002 movie, John Q.  The performance took place a week after two police officers were murdered in Brookhaven.


Numerous leaders such as Governor Phil Bryant and Department of Public Safety Commissioner Marshall Fisher strongly condemned the performance.  Needless to say, comments posted on social media were much more harsh.  JPS suspended the band director and initiated an investigation.  Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba apologized to the Mayor of Brookhaven for the incident. 

MHSAA got into the act and issued a notice of penalty  on October 9. The sanctions are posted below.   JJ obtained a copy of the notice through a public records request. 

1. Forest Hill High School band program is placed on restrictive probation for the remainder of the 2018 - 19 school year. Forest Hill High School band program is ineligible to participate in MHSAA sanctioned sports or activity events for the remainder of the 2018 - 19 school year, beginning October 9, 2018. MHSAA Handbook, page 44, 4.7.2

2. Forest Hill High School band director is suspended from participation in MHSAA sanctioned activities and events. Handbook, page 55, 5.2.6 / page 54, 5.1.1.

3. Forest Hill High School is fined $2500.00 for flagrant conduct inconsistent with a wholesome band program. Handbook, page 44, 4.7.2

4. The principal of Forest Hill High School will be required to appear before the Executive Committee of the Mississippi High School Activities Association prior to the 2019 - 20 school year to communicate Forest Hill High School administration's efforts to insure that a written plan is in place to educate school personnel about essential MHSAA rules and guidelines pertaining to sports and activities.
Forest Hill has five days to appeal the sanctions.


Mr. Jones told Mr. Cain he was fired Friday.  He learned of the firing through a letter sent to his attorney by Dr. Greene.  He said he never spoke to the Superintendent.  He said the show was planned in the spring (5:00 in video) and choreographed during the summer.  He submitted the theme of the show to MHSAA in the summer.  He said he didn't know about the killing the Brookhaven police officers until after the performance concluded.  He "immediately felt very bad."  He went to the other side of the field and told the band director he didn't know about the killings.  "We wouldn't do anything with malice", he said. 

The former band director said he served for eight years as band director and was a JPS employee for twelve years.  The band has more than 80 members and performed at the Peach Bowl in 2013 and 2014*.

Kingfish note: The interview itself is probably the best evidence that JPS fired Jones.  Employees aren't going to give interviews without employer consent. 





*JJ refuses to refer to the bowl game by its corporate name. 

57 comments:

Anonymous said...

The JPS Superintendent got this one right. Unfortunately the MHSAA got it wrong. Suspending the band for the remainder of the school year is not right. I don't blame the kids for not speaking up. Hell, as adults I see it all the time in the workplace where we don't speak up for fear of retaliation. And people expect kids to speak up. They were just doing what they were told by someone who should have known better. If they speak up then they run the risk of sitting on the sidelines for not being team players. MHSAA needs to reinstate the band. For many of them this is all they have.

Anonymous said...

Suspend the players that were involved in the skit

Anonymous said...

what do you have against chik-fil-a ?

Anonymous said...

Correct move. Now, MHSAA needs to reinstate the band.

Anonymous said...

Attention Mayor. That's leadership.

Now let the kids play their horns. Surely the message has gotten through, but cancelling the whole season puts the kids' focus on beating the MHSAA, not on learning a lesson.

Anonymous said...

MHSAA should acknowledge the positive move by the superintendent.

Anonymous said...

Superintendent is clearly overqualified for this position and will be poached by a much larger district out of state with 12 months. Sad but inevitable.

Anonymous said...

4:49, I guess it's 5:00 somewhere. Players?

Anonymous said...

Clearly there’s a new Sheriff in JPS land. A glimmer of hope?

The Realist said...

Good job! Now expell all the coffee shop social justice warrior "students" who participated.

Dee Ray said...

It's ridiculous to suggest the suspended band or its members be reinstated as if the punishment never was warranted and never occurred. These kids all need to feel the sting of consequence following their actions. (For the first damned time in their young lives).

Let's move up now to an investigation of the principal and other faculty.

Anonymous said...

All for investigating the principal. Not in favor of suspending an entire band for a season. A game maybe.

Anonymous said...

Y'all satisfied with the this guys blood on the floor, are you going to help pay for the wrongful termination case he is going to win.

Anonymous said...

@6:05 you don't know a darn thing about these students. Stop with the sweeping generalizations. You have no idea what these students have or haven't been through in their lives.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Trump. The FBI, justice department, and local cops are all rigged. This is fake news. I still haven't seen a clear shot showing the kids were dressed as cops. All we have to go on is some grainy video taken from a mile away. You're telling me in this day and age, no one bothered to pull out a decent camera to get this on film? What a joke.

Anonymous said...

I realize that this isn't going away without some bloodletting, but after observing what band directors have been saying the last few days I better understand where this guy was coming from. In the gear up to competition these directors are working 80 hour weeks. They aren't aware of the world around them for a period of time. I understand that. I have weeks I don't check the news at certain times with my workload. Then they arrive right before half. A reasonable explanation (and easily checked) for not realizing any of this at the game. I've also witnessed band directors confirming what he said about weapons use in programs. Apparently, some were used in the state band competition on Saturday. And, finally the content wasn't what people jumped to conclusions over with one still photo. When I watched the entire performance it was apparent that this wasn't what the mob made it out to be. It isn't going to change his losing his job but someone is going to hire him and a school will get a good educator who made a mistake at a critical time. Lots of people need to reflect on why they assumed this was about police brutality and #BLM.

Anonymous said...

Wrongful termination. I guess you believe in no consequences for inappropriate actions. That’s why Jackson is such a utopia.

Anonymous said...

I don't anymore believe that the band director was not aware the murder of the two Brookhaven police officers than I believe he didn't know what day the game was on. To top it all off he's a liar!

Kingfish said...

You'd be surprised at how many people with college degrees don't keep up with the news. I knew a couple of people who didn't know about Frannie Fortner's death despite being all over the news for several days.

I have a friend who works with the drum corps at one of the high schools. Between his regular job, family, and yes, working with the drum corps in the evenings and spending every Friday night with those kids, he rarely pops up on FB anymore or anywhere else for that matter. Doesn't really know what is going on in the news because he is too busy working his butt off. You know, providing for a family, being a role model for those JPS kids you hate so much, that sort of thing.

Anonymous said...

@October 15, 2018 at 8:44 PM How could he not know. Their names were in the end zones, and they probably acknowledged the deceased officers before the game over the PA system. I watched his interview with O. Cain, and it gave me the impression of someone that is oblivious to anything outside of his bubble. He bit off more than he could chew being that he pissed off the locals, LEOs nationwide, etc. with that impromptu expression of whatever his point was. His message has been hijacked into multiple meanings, and rightfully so being that the whole idea was misguided.

Is the outrage over the disrespect to the slain LEOs and families?
Is the outrage over the current climate of school shootings?
Is the outrage over BLM?

He claimed that the idea is to do something....
He is still in denial that he endangered these kids by using them as pawns in his failed political message. The focus should be on salvaging the kids. They need to be evaluated first and foremost.

Anonymous said...

I agree I only watch the news when Woodie Assaf is on the air.

Anonymous said...

The band director deserved to be fired. The kids in the band are just that - kids - being told this was ok by their teacher/director. Make them sit out for a week or two and then let them get back to it. They did what the grownups in charge told them to do. Maybe they could conduct a law enforcement tribute.

Anonymous said...

Reinstatement = rewarding bad behavior.

Anonymous said...

I call bull crap on the statement that he knew nothing about the officers being gunned down in Brookhaven. With 80 students in the band and apparently some parents are smart enough to read the newspaper, watch the news or read Facebook and would have known about the killings. If the show was practiced over and over prior to the week it was performed then I blame the parents too. Not everyone associated with that band can claim ignorance of the killings of cops in Brookhaven. Come on people. We aren't stupid, especially when we've been around high school activities all our life. Total bullsxxt.

Anonymous said...

Lots of snowflakes on here triggered by children re-enacting a movie who seem to need a safe space to curl up in. Or does that only work the other way around?

Anonymous said...

I hope everyone commenting is just as passionate about the folks that threatened both the kids and the band director losing their job and being punished as they are about this. At least today the Governor after two weeks gave a passing acknowledgment to it. Yeah the kids were supposed to know better, but the adults calling for them to be lynched should just be given a pass.

Anonymous said...

I see no difference in this angry mob and those "liberal mobs" you all love to blame everything on.

Anonymous said...

I guess one thing is not clear. The band is suspended for the “season”. The football season for Forest Hill ends Nov 2nd. Why the big deal? The director was the HUGE F Up in all this. He is fired. The kids miss 3 opportunities to march at halftime. It sounds pretty much like a fair deal for a major social f up.

What am I missing?

Anonymous said...

This should have been posted as a bed wetter alert.

A Few More Seats On The Band Wagon said...

If these little children had been instructed by a large, overbearing adult to appear in blackface or Klan uniforms or perform a skit with men assaulting women...would not a single one of them go to the principal's office to complain? Would none of them mention it to their parents? Would none of the parents march into the principal's office?

What possible meaning (or lesson) did the band director think would be learned from a skit based on some twenty year old movie that nobody ever heard of, the fans don't understand and, during which, the kids are as lost as geese in a snowstorm?

I hear a lot of you moaners (including JJ) whining about band directors and others who are so deeply involved in their jobs and volunteer activities that they MIGHT NOT know what's going on in the world around them at any given time. Quite a speculative leap. But, this bunch of frogs does tend to leap.

Anonymous said...

I say good for Errick Green. This wouldn't be an issue at ony other school district. It's only an issue for JPS because they lack diversity in student body and use it as an excuse unlike other districts in the state and certai my metro Jackson. JPS has been so irresponsible for so long now they feel entitled to do what they wish. Also councilman Banks who wore his council polo shirt on the news needs to keep his mouth shut as most of the city outside his ward makeup finds him to be less than intelligent. Very reactive and lacking substance. Preachers need to shut up as well. Otherwise pull there non profit status for involment in these issues. JPS must learn they don't make the rules but are to abide by them.

Theca Jones said...

9:21

Yanno the world doesn't revolve around police getting killed my guy.

Anonymous said...

The badge numbers were on the field. They had a moment of silence BEFORE the game honoring the officers. I'm pretty sure the principal or some other 'official' approving the program knew. I do not believe a word Demetri Jones says. He submitted a 'theme' but I guarantee he did not submit the 'toy' AR-15s as part of that 'theme'. He needs to take his BS somewhere else. Why is the Jackson Public School district the ONLY district in the entire nation that thinks AR-15s on a football field is perfectly acceptable? And to top it off, they turn it into race baiting hate. That was his 'progressive BLM' plan from the beginning.

Anonymous said...

No school sanctioned program should include the usage of a gun. Any teacher/coach/administrator/band director who does so should be terminated. Kids see enough violence in the movies and on TV without having to contend with it on campus. This is a PR nightmare for JPS and they already have enough problems as it is. This skit should have never seen the light of day.

Anonymous said...

KF, nice try but too many who comment can't imagine a life that busy. They have plenty of time apparently to get up in everyone else's business.
And, we actually waited to let the people who had problems sort them out in hopes they'd allow us the same courtesy and would only help if asked.
We also didn't feel the need to make everyone a clone of ourselves in word, thought or deed...just be law abiding and respect our boundaries.

Anonymous said...

Guess what? If an athlete's eligibility comes in to question the whole team must forfeit their season. (usually it's a coach trying to get by) Same thing here... An adult did wrong and the whole team (band) must suffer the consequences. Thank you MHSAA for doing the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Almost there -- now the principal needs to be fired when he/she presents the written plan for future avoidance of this type of incident. Maybe JPS and its new supe will get this one right. Better Together JPS? Not quite yet...

Anonymous said...

I don't give a damn if the band director knew, or didn't know, of the killing of two police officers in Brookhaven. The idea of having a halftime show depicting the killing of SWAT team members by some goons is ridiculous. And then to hide behind the John Q movie answer is nothing but a diversion since it doesn't exist.

Yes, the band director should be fired. And - for all the bleeding hearts on here that want to not suspend the band, you need to research the MHSAA rules. They have done nothing but enforce the regulations that apply to all public high schools in the state. Yes, the rules even apply to the failing "F" schools run by JPS. Being black doesn't exempt you from being held to the same standards that other schools are held to for stupid actions.

Anonymous said...

Anybody here give a damn about kids who get in trouble without intending to? Are these kids such animals that you cannot imagine that their lives would be much better if they were given proper adult guidance. Obviously their band director failed them. Now they get condemnation and anger from people who wouldn't spit on them if they were on fire. Easy enough to find these people who think these kids, their teachers, their community, their city, is worthless and should be eliminated. But where are the real citizens, the parents who want to rush in there, with police officers and maybe even people from Brookhaven to make Forest Hill and their band understand why their performance was unacceptable and hurtful. These kids are in school, they ought to be taught civility and responsibility whenever the occasion arises. This was an occasion. Instead these kids will once again learn that nobody is interested in talking TO them, only ABOUT them.

Anytime kids blindly follow authority into trouble, other authority ought to provide them with proper guidance so that they will learn from their mistake. Fire the band director, teach the kids.

Anonymous said...

If these kids had been white, most of you would not have uttered a peep.

Anonymous said...

@ 11:09- if the kids had been white, they would never have participated in this debacle and their PARENTS would not have tolerated a band director or principal who thought for even one second that it was a good & reasonable thing to do. Guaranteed.

Anonymous said...

October 16, 2018 at 11:09 AM nice try, but if these were white kids all hell would’ve broken lose. Given the circumstances this could’ve turned out much worse. At first I thought that the punishment was extreme for the kids, but now not so much. I hate that they fell into an extreme agenda, and they most certainly do not deserve what is being written about them in social media. The true measure of an adult mind is the level of depths when it comes to analytical thinking. I doubt that even the most mature of the student band members possessed more than 1 level. Yes they should’ve known right from wrong, and no I don’t believe that any child considered the risk versus reward then said eff it the routine is more important.

And to Theca Jones the world may not revolve around police shootings, but I am willing to bet that going forward creative freedom of expression will be restricted during future performances.

Anonymous said...

@11:09
Again, because I believe its been said here before, if the kids were white then the superintendent, principal and band director would have been fired. The band program would have been dismantled. I can also assure you that there would have been no community leaders hiding behind stupid excuses and holding press conferences saying no one should be punished.

Anonymous said...

@11:09
If the two female students (or even one of them) in Ed Meek's ill advised Facebook post had been white, then there would not be a rush to remove his name from the school of journalism at Ole Miss. In fact, no one would have uttered a peep.

Anonymous said...

Question, Why is everyone assuming that the Kids were aiming guns at police officers in their skit? The people on the ground were not in police uniforms. That never happened in the movie and no one from Forest Hill has said that was what the skit was displaying.

Anonymous said...

If the kids are old enough to be in the varsity band they are old enough to think for themselves. Some of them, if not all of them knew of the shootings in Brookhaven. It had been in and on the news for several days prior yet they still performed that skit.

Yes, those that participated in the skit Forest Hill Band performed in Brookhaven should be suspended from any and all extracurricular activities at Forest Hill.

Anonymous said...

What? A JPS superintendent showing wisdom and leadership? Such an encouraging moment for Jackson. The students are suffering consequences for decisions adults made, but it may be a good lesson on learning to thing for themselves and be willing to speak out against wrongs.

Anonymous said...

@11:09 is correct because there wouldn't have been an assumption that this was a political statement. People would have kept on eating their nachos and at most focused on the holding hands and the praying at the end. If these students and their director had been white their wouldn't have been death threats on FB by the time the bus got to Jackson. There wasn't a huge reaction in the stands during the performance. The reaction came after the still photo was posted and went nuts on social media. The photo wouldn't have been taken if the kids were white.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much the little improtu press conference the other day factored into this when they started saying you are not firing this guy or punishing the kids. Band director seems like a nice guy but if this was let go I feel like repercussions would have been much worse

Iona Tuba said...

"You don't know a darned thing about these kids".

You're right, we don't. I assume you mean we don't know anything about their home life, their finances, their grades or their personal issues. And why would that matter? We should not cut people slack (in terms of punishment) based on their personal circumstance. That applies to kids in a band or criminals on the street. Or rebellious band directors with dreams of anarchy.

Anonymous said...

ATTN: Mr. Jones, Former Band Director. GROW UP. There are consequences for bad judgement. Take it like a man. The head of school at FH should also be fired.
POOR JUDGEMENT HAS CONSEQUENCES, at least for grown up, adult, educated, professional, persons.

Anonymous said...

Why is the $2,500 fine a problem? If the band is suspended from performing the band is not spending budgeted money to transport itself to games, band competitions, etc.

There should be plenty of money to cover the fine.

Anonymous said...

This is based on what has been in the news, but if the bend director and the members of the band not only displayed prop firearms inappropriately and contrary to school rules, but also pointed them at other students (who admittedly were part of the skit and knew they were in no real danger), again against school rules, there can be no real question that a rules violation took place.

Further, it is disingenuous to suggest that reasonable teachers or high school students are unaware that prop or "toy" guns are forbidden at school or school functions and have been for years. This is not a case of obviously toy guns such as Super Soaker or Nerf toys merely carried as an accessory to a costume, but a planned and choreographed "skit" involving making or otherwise obtaining fairly realistic facsimiles of real firearms and pointing them at other students in a depiction of violence. This would have been mindbogglingly stupid regardless of the murder of the police officers and/or the race(s) of anyone involved. In any event, yes, in my opinion the band director should have been fired and any administrator who in any way condoned it should be fired.

Since I do not know what the consequences for the band members might be, I have no opinion(s) on the apparent performance suspension of the band as a whole. Obviously, any punishment should fit the offense, if any, committed by the band members. My best reasonable guess is that any reasonable high school student knows full well that bringing a prop firearm to school and pointing it at anyone, even if the person is "in on it," would be a serious infraction. However, would they know that doing it as part what appears to be a teacher-created-and-sanctioned "skit" could lead to serious consequences? That is a much tougher and much more involved question and I know I don't know the answer. I seriously doubt there is just one answer for all the students involved.

Anonymous said...

I thought it's supposed to be illegal to have real OR look alike firearms on ANY school property. Nobody has been charged or arrested yet. Why not?
Further, they claim it was a scene from the movie "John Q"; I've seen it and there's nothing in the movie even remotely like that.
The band director claims he had no knowledge of the murder of two Brookhaven Police Officers. What planet is he living on?

Anonymous said...

@6:43 that was in response to "t's ridiculous to suggest the suspended band or its members be reinstated as if the punishment never was warranted and never occurred. These kids all need to feel the sting of consequence following their actions. (For the first damned time in their young lives). "

To paint with a wide brush and assume that none of these children have ever faced consequences is incredibly telling. Numerous CC band directors have come out talking about having FH kids in their bands and what good people they are. Just because a student happens to go to a school at JPS doesn't mean you get to make an assumption about their upbringing. It is that kind of assumption that shows me that this is absolutely about race for a good percentage of people.

Anonymous said...

4:07 there isn't anyone arrested even when they bring a real gun to school. Remember the woman who was shown in the news waving a pistol about her head during one of the many fights at school? Remember the kids shot when a gunfight broke out at a Jackson school?

It is their culture to bring guns to school. It would be racist to complain about it.

Anonymous said...

@1:33, another white person trying to define African American culture. Pathetic.

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