Bradley Layfield

Layfield hearing: Employees say he was jovial showing video

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

Bradley Layfield

A hearing that reviewed Bradley Layfield’s firing as Sussex Central principal lasted into the mid-afternoon Thursday.

GEORGETOWN — Ousted Sussex Central High School Principal ’s hearing Thursday to clear his name stretched into the mid-afternoon as  person after person testified he seemed jovial at showing a video of a school fight in which a student’s breast was exposed.
Layfield was fired by the Indian River School District after being accused of circulating the video of the May fight.
The principal and his lawyer, Thomas S. Neuberger, claimed that Layfield was following school policy and was fired as part of a political witch hunt.
About 10 school employees said that when Layfield showed them the 20-second video he was laughing or seemed to be in a jovial mood while doing it.
Overseen by retired judge William Carpenter at the CHEER Community Center in Georgetown, the hearing was meant to uphold or strike down the school district firing.

Bradley Layfield

The hearing ended about 3:30 p.m. Carpenter will send his recommendation to the Indian River District School Board for that board’s decision.

The review follows the dismissal of a lawsuit by the student, Aniya Harmon, now a graduate, charging invasion of privacy and other things for circulating a meme showing her breast with Janet Jackson’s face superimposed on hers.
The meme was a reference to the 2014 Super Bowl halftime show when singer Justin Timberlake seemed to expose Jackson’s breast on national television. The incident was said to be the result of a costume malfunction.
Harmon also had sued the school, district and former Sussex Center assistant principal Matt Jones.
While the meme was a focal point in the coverage of the case, the hearing focused on the video.
David Clark, a district tech specialist, testified that the computer logged in to Layfield’s account showed that the video was played at least 25 times. That did not include rewinds or dragging through the video.
The 10 school employees who testified ranged from classroom teachers to assistant principals to the librarian, instruction director and tech specialist.
The district’s lawyer questioned them about Layfield’s demeanor and how he presented the video.

Layfield said to be ‘giddy’

Assistant Principal Aerin Donovan said Layfield was “giddy” when showing it, and Assistant Principal Karen Oliphant said he showed it to her to “cheer her up” the day after the May 2023 incident, as she’s not a morning person.
Two employees, both school teachers, said Layfield told them “you didn’t see the video, right?” They felt pressured to lie once the state investigation occurred.
The school librarian, Kelly Deleon, whose son, Trace, is also a teacher at the school, testified that Trace felt uncomfortable when Layfield said the rhetorical remark to him.
Kelly Deleon said she texted Layfield a couple days after, they talked on the phone and and she told him that her son will not lie for him. She said Layfield was apologetic to both her and Trace.
The district’s attorney continually asked the same questions to employees to whom Layfield showed the video: “Did he show you it with the intent of using it to address school safety, the code of conduct, student well-being?”
Layfield’s lawyers have argued that his actions were in the line of him performing work duties and that any school admin would be reviewing footage of a school fight.
However, all witnesses said no to the questions about school safety, code of conduct and well-being.
Layfield only showed them the video in mockery, laughing and displaying a jovial manner, with no mention of ensuring students are safe or evaluating the code of conduct, they said.
One assistant principal said Layfield’s face turned red and his shoulders were popping up and down from how much Layfield was laughing.
District Superintendent Jay F. Owens testified that Layfield should not be allowed to return to his job as principal. Trust was broken, Owens said, and it is in the back of everyone’s mind now.
Oliphant said the district has become much more professional in the time since Layfield and Jones were dismissed.
There were a couple crackles in the crowd of 50 when Oliphant said, “There have been less deez nuts” jokes, and had to spell out deez nuts for the recording clerk.
Oliphant said she said the professionalism is apparent when two immature men — referring to Layfield and Jones — are taken out of the picture.
The hearing ended about 3:30 p.m.

Share this Post