DENVER (CBS4) — Manual High School Principal Nicholas Dawkins submitted his resignation Friday morning to the Denver Public Schools officials.

“District officials and counselors spent the day at the school informing educators and students,” the district said in a news release.

A 4:07 p.m. Facebook post on the Friends of Manual High School page said the school’s principal “has decided to resign.”

“We want to share how incredibly grateful we are for Nick’s service,” the post stated. “Nick grew up down the street from our school and has given so much to Manual and our community.”

Nicholas Dawkins (credit: Manual High School website)

Dawkins’s biography on the school’s website says he has spent 16 years in Denver-area school, including stints at South High School, Thomas Jefferson High School, Martin Luther King Jr. Early College, and Hamilton Middle School.

While at Hamilton in 2014, Dawkins was received the Education Center’s Principal of the Year award.

Dawkins encountered controversy following a football game last fall when Manual hosted Weld Central High School from Keenesburg. Some fans at the game were offended by the WCHS mascot – a confederate-era soldier – displayed on a flag, though no photos or video were ever produced showing it or a confrontation between the fans of the two schools.

“The Weld Central High School team — which has a Rebel mascot — displayed a Confederate flag during the first quarter of the game, offending many members of the Manual community,” Dawkins said days after the game in a letter. “We asked them to remove the flag and they did so. However, the tension created by the flag led to conflict on and off the playing field.”

Following Dawkins’s departure Friday, Lainie Hodges resigned her position as board chair of Friends of Manual.

“Words cannot express how grateful I am to Nick Dawkins for all that he has given,” she wrote. “It was a pleasure to work alongside him and I will forever treasure what Manual is and has been to us.”

DPS said it will choose an interim principal early next week.

A letter written by Dawkins was distributed in the district’s news release:

To My Dear Camerados,
I am writing to inform you of my resignation from Denver Public Schools. My time spent in DPS as a student, paraprofessional, teacher, assistant principal and school leader have been most of my life and some of the best times of my life. You could say I learned how to grow up in DPS. The most amazing leaders I have ever encountered and spoken with have been in this incredible city and school system. I’ve traveled to new heights I never believed I could go to! My life was saved by students that served as DPS pupils and by an Assistant Principal who refused to let me dwindle away after my sweet mother and caring grandparents passed on to another place. Leaders like Allen Smith, Antwan Wilson, Randy Johnson, Tom Boasberg, Greta Martinez, Bill Kohut, Tony Smith, Susana C., Alyssa, and Debbie H., gave me an opportunity and some even showed me what a father could have looked like in my life; or what a mother’s care could still feel like. I have so looked up to our leadership. Working with Yolanda Greer, Barb Nash, Araceli, Prudence, Derek Hawkins, Juli Yacovetta, Chris Deremer, John Goe, Rodney Jackson Jen Jackson, Dave Daves, Legina Layman, Will Anderson, Kendrick Friendly, Tonyetta Fields, Kelli Lesh, Kristen Moreland, Sonja Debose, Sharon Dacotah, Shirene Patterson, Lesley Meyer, Becca Burkhart. The list just goes on. I am so proud and fulfilled by everything we accomplished for kids far and wide. The parents, the community, our beautiful times together are a blinding light of smiles, joy, amazing accomplishments and love. Dancing at DPS Values Day, winning the heart of so many South East parents and students, the student protest during my last day of teaching at South- one kid stood up on a chair and saluted with tears in his eyes, Walt Whitman’s “Oh captain, My captain!” When I walked in my AVID class they were all standing on tables, 50 students saluting, “Oh Captain, My Captain!” I thought I was in a movie! No day has been the same since and many of them have felt like movies. In the far northeast we turned a Red school Green and started a mentoring for the most-at-risk program that is now all over the state of Colorado. There are so many great kids out there and at MLK! I still cheer for the students, teachers and parents at Hamilton Middle School! The kind of Teachers I led there are harder and harder to find these days. One who really didn’t care for me in the beginning actually sent her student with me back home to Manual!

I knew going to lead at Manual could break me because everyone warned me. It broke the heart of so many when I grew up down the street in my childhood. One of my best friends was murdered after I dropped him off right across the street from Manual, as I started my high school career. He had a beautiful smile, Shandell Banks, I met him at Morey Middle School with the golden mustang in the cafeteria. What I am most proud of in my time leading in DPS is where I chose to lead. DPS giving me the chance to go home and make some things right by the students there is a gift I will always be thankful for. The decision to go there represents the kind of man I want to be and the kind of people that we so desperately need to help our common humanity. Manual is where the light is, and that light has been me. It’s the light that I looked for when I was lost, it’s the light that came from reading so many books and learning from so many people and experiences. In many ways, my mother’s early death became the event that brought so much joy, pride, healing and hope to Manual kids and families years later. She is still giving back to our community through me, which has made almost every day for me so special, so healing, so hopeful! Before I came to Manual I was told by a leader you are going to ruin your career, you are jumping from the frying pan into the fire, the school and kids down there are dying on the vine, there is a reason no one wants to lead there, it is highly likely you will fail. After sleeping on it, I returned the next day with the statement, “I don’t think going back to my community and telling 300 kids we love them and haven’t forgot about them is a failure. And if that is failure and I ruin my career, I guess I will have to get another career. They deserve it.”
Thank you, my dear leaders and camerados! I love you all and still believe love conquers! Every child can succeed!
Nickolas Haney Benjamin Dawkins

Thank you,
Nickolas Dawkins |Principal
Manual High School 1700 28th Ave|Denver, CO 80205