‘I saw it coming:’ Current and former students say arrested vocal teacher known for odd behavior

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — More current and former students at Douglas Anderson School for the Arts are speaking out after a vocal teacher was arrested for inappropriate conduct with a student.


The students Action News Jax the teacher was well known for his odd behavior with females in classes.

[DOWNLOAD: Free Action News Jax app for alerts as news breaks]

Evelyn Arriaga graduated from Douglas Anderson in 2020.

For four years Jeffry Clayton, the man now facing charges related to inappropriate conduct with a student, was her teacher.

“I saw it coming,” Arriaga said.

She said she remembers Clayton often touching female students on the stomach or chest as part of vocal training.

Now after learning police have accused him of kissing and inappropriately texting a female student, her memory of her former teacher has been tainted.

Read: Jacksonville sexual predator convicted by jury attempting to entice child to make sex abuse videos

“We’re over here spending more time with this person who is supposed to essentially look out for us in a way and instead he was just using it as… I don’t even know. Because I don’t even know how you can think like that honestly,” Arriaga said.

Ben Ebner Winkler is a current sophomore at the school and was in Clayton’s class.

He told us students had complained on multiple occasions about his way of interacting with students, but those complaints fell on deaf ears.

“Because unless these claims get bad like they did in this situation which the police had to get involved the school and the district don’t act on it,” Ebner Winkler said.

He said he’d hoped this incident would be a wake-up call for the school and the district, but already he said those hopes are waning.

“They announced that this week would be see something say something week, but people see stuff and they say stuff and the school still does nothing,” Ebner Winkler said.

Related Story: ‘It’s terrifying:’ Jacksonville teacher facing felony charges for alleged lewd conduct with student

The district has opened an investigation into Clayton, and while it has said he won’t be allowed to return to the school, he has not been officially fired.

The district has asked for students and faculty to come forward if they have any information regarding this case but declined to tell us how many tips they’ve received so far.

[SIGN UP: Action News Jax Daily Headlines Newsletter]

“While I can confirm those investigations are underway, it would not be appropriate to address any of the details,” DCPS Chief of Marketing and Public Relations Dr. Tracy Peirce said in an emailed statement.