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Local leaders call for state to intervene over DCPS’ handling of teacher misconduct

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Duval County Public Schools told the Florida Department of Education it had made fixes to ensure the proper reporting of teacher misconduct less than two weeks before yet another misconduct controversy began to unfold.

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Now, some local leaders are calling on more direct action from the department to address the issues.

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Action News Jax obtained an Inspector General’s report that detailed how DCPS failed to report 73 incidents of alleged teacher misconduct to the Florida Department of Education within the required 30-day window.

The report, which was published in January, put the blame on one man, Reginald Johnson, who previously served as Supervisor of DCPS’ Office of Professional Standards.

According to witness testimony detailed in the report, Johnson also deleted 290 files consisting of various educator case files, public records requests and DOE reporting forms.

ORIGINAL STORY: Details of state OIG investigation of Duval schools’ delay of teacher misconduct reporting released

There were also files deleted that involved former Douglas Anderson teacher Jeffrey Clayton, who recently pleaded guilty to charges of inappropriate conduct with a student.

“It begs the question to say, was he educated on who this man was, or was he told to do this?” said former Douglas Anderson student Shyla Jenkins.

Jenkins, a former student of Clayton’s, said she’s skeptical Johnson acted alone.

“This is not just a DA issue, this is a Duval County Public School issue,” said Jenkins. “I think there’s a bigger atmosphere of collusion that’s going on at the district.”

During the course of the investigation, Johnson took an early retirement instead of being terminated.

In response to the report, Interim Superintendent Dr. Dana Kriznar sent a letter to the Florida Department of Education detailing actions taken by the district to fix the reporting errors.

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The actions listed in the February letter included transitioning to reporting misconduct to the department electronically, rather than through the postal service.

Kriznar also wrote that the district had implemented online reporting options to help monitor and track the status of complaints.

It was only 11 days after that letter was sent that the district learned of Douglas Anderson teacher Christopher Allen-Black’s arrest for indecent exposure.

The district didn’t remove him from the classroom for more than six weeks.

“Literally almost two weeks later. After you’ve come out and said we will make a concerted effort to do everything we can to protect children in our school system. Clearly that’s not the case,” said Jenkins.

In a letter sent to Kriznar Thursday, Florida Commissioner of Education Manny Diaz called the decision to delay Allen-Black’s removal, “unacceptable” and stated, “It is clear that there is more work to be done in your district”.

“Your failure to address these pressing concerns reflects a lack of prioritization for the well-being of students, parents and educators who rely on you to ensure a safe and conducive learning environment,” Diaz wrote.

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In response to Diaz’s letter, State Senator Clay Yarborough (R-Jacksonville) has called for the Florida Department of Education to get more directly involved in solving the issues at DCPS.

“If DCPS continues this reckless trajectory, then for the safety of our children, the State has no choice but to step in and make necessary changes. Potential courses of action are already being explored,” said Yarborough in a statement Friday.

Jenkins said she wants to see the issues handled internally, if possible.

“This needs to be an internal investigation that is handled by the new superintendent coming in. And people need to be terminated and fired at the highest level in the district,” said Jenkins.

Action News Jax reached out to DCPS Thursday and again on Friday seeking comment on the Commissioner of Education’s letter.

We have not received a response.

In Diaz’s letter, he gave the district five days to respond and outline the steps it will take to address his concerns.

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