Principal Bradley Layfield has been fired by the Indian River School District.

All 7 board members agree: Fire Bradley Layfield

Jarek RutzEducation, Headlines

Principal Bradley Layfield has been fired by the Indian River School District.

Principal Bradley Layfield has been fired by the Indian River School District.

The Indian River School District Board of Education on Thursday voted to uphold the termination of a school principal enmeshed in a scandal involving a video image of a student’s breast.

In its private executive meeting Thursday night, the district board voted to uphold its firing of Bradley Layfield, former principal at Sussex Central High School.

In response, Layfield’s lawyer, Thomas Neuberger, released a four-page document.

Some of its main points are that the district is favoring Superintendent Jay Owens, the meme was a false accusation from the start, district witnesses feared backlash for potentially supporting Layfield and the inability of Layfield to speak or testify because of an ongoing criminal investigation from the state police.

The school district has not released a comment on the decision.

The vote, a lawsuit, legal proceedings and a February hearing stem from May 23, 2023, when Layfield and Assistant Principal Matthew Jones were suspended indefinitely. 

Aniya Harmon, who was 18 at the time and is now an alumnae, had her breast exposed during a fight with other students that school staff tried to break up. 

Testimony in the hearings accused Layfield of playing the video at least two dozen times.

Layfield’s attorney has argued from the beginning that school district protocol calls for school admins to review video of fights in order to discipline students and/or ensure student safety and the prevention of future incidents.

Rather than using the video to help plan safety policies, he used it to provide himself and his coworkers with laughter, according to testimony from co-workers.

RELATED: Layfield hearing: Employees say he was jovial showing video

Several staff members said Layfield was shaking from laughter at the video, and even showed it to employees to try to “brighten their morning.”

Owens said at the public hearing that trust has been broken and this will always be at the back of the minds of the community, so it’s hard to move forward with Layfield employes.

There were rumors that Layfield and Jones circulated a meme that superimposed Janet Jackson’s face onto Harmon’s body, but there was no meme, according to testimony in the Feb. 15 hearing presided over by retired Judge William Carpenter. 

Many employees said during the hearings that the environment since the two admins left has been more mature and professional. 

Carpenter was to issue a report to the district board, which would base its final decision on those results. The report has not been made public.

In his statement Friday, Neuberger included comments from one parent, one teacher and two students who talked about their appreciation and affinity for Layfield. 

“Counsel doubts whether Dr. Layfield will go away quietly in the night after more than 9 months of character assassination by the District,” Neuberger’s document said. “He has two years to recover emotionally and make up his mind on his next step.”

The law firm also promoted the Layfield Legal Defense Fund and is asking for donations. The firm needs more money to help finance a federal lawsuit. 

Neuberger had said on several occasions that he would demand publically that three of the board members recuse themselves from any vote and issue a press release about why they shouldn’t be allowed to vote.

He never did.

All seven board members voted to fire Layfield. 

Timeline of events

May 25, ‘23: Indian River employees placed on admin leave, reason unclear

Aug. 21, ‘23: Indian River admin breaks silence after secretive suspension 

Sept. 12, ‘23: Sussex Central student whose breast was exposed during fight files lawsuit

Oct. 11, ‘23: Dismiss suit, says principal accused of sharing breast photo

Nov. 16, ‘23: More mystery in Sussex case involving student breast photo

Nov. 20, ‘23: Layfield fired by Indian River board over student breast case

Nov. 21, ‘23: Sussex student happy principal fired, wants criminal charges

Feb. 15, ‘23: Layfield hearing: Employees say he was jovial showing video


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