Eastpointe High principal resigns after board considers not renewing her contact

By: Maria Allard | Roseville-Eastpointe Eastsider | Published May 22, 2023




EASTPOINTE — The students who attend Eastpointe High School will finish out the 2022-23 school year without a principal at the helm.

Principal Asenath Jones submitted a letter of resignation earlier this spring with her last day officially May 9.

Jones’ resignation came several weeks after the school board on March 30 voted 6-0 to adopt a resolution for consideration of nonrenewal for Jones’ contract. Board Trustee Mary Hall-Rayford was excused from the meeting.

State law requires the board to vote on a consideration of nonrenewal within a certain time frame before a vote is taken on whether or not to renew an administrator’s contract. This process was initiated on March 30.

“Because Mrs. Jones has resigned, no further action will be taken by the board,” district Communications and Marketing Coordinator Caitlyn Kienitz said in an email. “As a district, we will not comment further on personnel matters.”

The school’s assistant principals will continue to lead the high school for the remainder of the school year as school officials begin a search for a new principal.

Kienitz confirmed there were some student walkouts at the school in support of Jones.

“We support our students’ First Amendment rights to speech and to protest, and have not stopped or restricted them in any way,” Kienitz said. “However, it is our hope that students will resume participation in their sixth period classes, as the end of the school year and final exams are approaching quickly. While we understand that emotions are running high, our job and our priority is to provide our students with an education.”

Jones has been in education for 26 years. Jones came to the district in August 2021 as an assistant principal at the high school before becoming principal.

On May 11, school board President Jon Gruenberg released a statement to clarify that Jones had not been fired and that she had submitted her resignation prior to a potential vote to not renew her contract.

“Job performance was an issue before the unsubstantiated claim of a hostile work environment was made in January and continued being an issue after the claim,” Gruenberg said. “The claim was dealt with appropriately at that time, and no further discussion took place. The fact that one thing took place after another does not mean the second had anything to do with the first.”

Gruenberg also said that state law and procedure were followed in the process to consider nonrenewal, and that personnel discussions held in closed session are considered privileged information. He said that this decision was not made lightly and that the Board understands the concerns of the students and staff at Eastpointe High School.

“One of the extremely hard parts of the job as superintendent and as a Board of Education is there are occasions that, in the educational best interest of our students, personnel that are well liked need to be moved out of their position because they are not fulfilling the requirements of that position,” Gruenberg said. “However, the success of our students and our schools requires that such decisions be made. First and foremost, our board remains committed to serving the students in partnership with our families of Eastpointe.”


‘I cannot express to you the hurt that I feel behind this’
At the May 8 Board of Education meeting, Jones addressed the school board on the matter. No action was taken by the school board on any personnel matters at the meeting.

“I do believe that I have not been given due process. I know for a fact that, prior to this date, I never knew that I was up for nonrenewal,” Jones said. “I was never told I was doing a horrible job or given that opportunity to correct that.

“What I did do is ask a lot of questions. I did step up to participate in my union,” Jones said. “I did meet with my colleagues, and we discussed methods that were happening to us such as inequitable activities, abusive language, hostile work environments, all things we presented to the central office with only one task and that was to have equity training. That equity training still has not happened.”

Despite the resolution the board passed March 30, Jones continued to come to work until her resignation.

“I have created a wonderful culture that students are proud to be a part of at Eastpointe Community Schools. I have put us on the right path,” Jones told the board. “I asked that you take out the negative comments that you made about my work in your resolution because they are unfounded and not true. I’m asking you to right this wrong. I have no issues with the way I do my job. I think all of us have room to grow and room to learn.”

Jones also had a message for her staff.

“I do not want to leave you, although I feel like I am forced to leave you. I cannot express to you the hurt that I feel behind this,” she said. “Our children deserve better than a revolving, rotating door as soon as they get established. Please ensure that they stay in a conducive learning environment.”