JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Several cases of misconduct and sex crimes are being investigated at a Duval County high school. The City of Jacksonville Office of General Counsel has named an outside law firm to dig into the allegations against the district.
With those allegations comes criticism towards Duval County Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene.
Action News Jax reported last week that Greene could be forced into early retirement. Greene said otherwise on Wednesday.
“I’m gonna hopefully be standing on those stages, welcoming our graduates enter the world,” Greene told Action News Jax’s Meghan Moriarty after a Wednesday special school board meeting. “This is not about me. This is much bigger than me. This is about our school district, and we’re going through an issue right now. We’re gonna work through that, and as superintendent, I’m gonna continue to do my job.”
Nearly 60 people filed inside DCPS headquarters on Wednesday for the special board meeting, with 21 people speaking during public comment.
This comes one day after the State Board of Education Commissioner, Manny Diaz sent a letter to Greene. In the letter, he blames Dr. Greene for the delayed reporting of 50 cases of misconduct by district personnel, dating back to 2020.
Many who spoke during the meeting’s public comment portion said the allegations against Greene are politically motivated.
“This is a political witch hunt,” Reverend Benjamin Dixon said.
“Let’s not deflect from the issue -- that is an opportunity to fix a problem -- by throwing a public servant, a dedicated public servant, under the bus,” former Atlantic Beach Mayor Ellen Glasser said.
The meeting then shifted to focus on misconduct at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts. Action News Jax told you in March when a now former teacher, Jeffrey Clayton, was arrested and charged with sex crimes involving a student. In the last few weeks, three other teachers were removed from the classroom. The district has not commented as to why.
“We’re demanding that those found guilty in this investigation face disciplinary action so severe, as to be terminated,” former Douglas Anderson student Shyla Jenkins, said.
The City of Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel has appointed a third-party law firm to investigate. Weiss Serota Helfman Cole & Bierman, located in Fort Lauderdale, specializes in employment law in the field of education. Its done a total of nine school district investigations across Florida, according to Ray Poole, with the Office of Legal Counsel.
“The goal of this investigation is not only to get to the bottom of what happened, it’s also to fix what happened,” Deputy of General Counsel Jon Phillips said. “And, get feedback on what we need to do and should do to make sure this never happens again.”
The budget for the investigation is roughly $25,000, but that could be bumped up to $30,000. The hope is to have the investigation wrapped up as early as possible, but it could take until next school year. Right now, the COJ Office of General Counsel is budgeting for 80 hours of work.
“This firm is fully capable of hitting the ground running,” Phillips said.
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School Board Chairwoman Dr. Kelly Coker released the following statement after the meeting:
“Today, our board took the appropriate and necessary action to begin the process of determining the system failures that allowed Jeffrey Clayton to remain in the classroom for years after multiple district-led investigations involving inappropriate conduct by Mr. Clayton.
“In the action to hire outside counsel to investigate this item, our board also asked that outside counsel review the processes leading to the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Professional Practices to recently receive 50 backlogged teacher investigative cases, some of which date back to 2020. To be thorough, this investigation will take time; however, it is necessary to ensure the safety and security of our students moving forward.”
MORE RELATED COVERAGE
- State questions Duval County Public Schools over reporting of arrested Douglas Anderson teacher
- Arrested Duval teacher kissed student, told her of ‘intoxicating’ feelings for her, warrant says
- ‘It’s terrifying:’ Jacksonville teacher facing felony charges for alleged lewd conduct with student
- Douglas Anderson teacher accused of lewd conduct ‘involving a student’ submits retirement, DCPS says
- Former Douglas Anderson students, staff demanding accountability and transparency amid investigation
- Duval school board members discuss investigations after teacher-involved Douglas Anderson incidents
- ‘Everything on the table’ for DCPS superintendent, Dr. Diana Greene
- Dozens rallied for DCPS Superintendent regarding her future with the district
- A fourth Douglas Anderson School of the Arts teacher has been removed from the classroom
- Duval schools’ supervisor of professional standards office reassigned, is under investigation