JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — One day after Douglas Anderson vocal teacher Jeffrey Clayton was arrested for lewd and lascivious behavior involving a student, another student is speaking out.
The student claims that was not an isolated incident.
Clayton was a vocal teacher at Douglas Anderson for more than 20 years.
A sophomore vocal student at Douglas Anderson tells First Coast News that Clayton often made female students feel uncomfortable and that Clayton behaved that way for many years.
"You would see the way he would take liberties with the female students to touch them on the shoulder or the back or bring them in closer to him," said Ben Ebner-Winkler, a sophomore at Douglas Anderson. "And the way he would speak to them wasn't just patronizing them, it was like he was in on some joke with them, but it was weird to see how comfortable he felt touching the female students."
Thursday afternoon the Duval Public School District told First Coast News that the district opened a comprehensive investigation in the allegations against Clayton that will go beyond the district's normal investigation into an arrested employee.
Students, alumni, or others who might have information useful to the investigation are encouraged to email Dr. Tameiko Grant, head of the district’s professional standards' office, at GrantT1@duvalschools.org.
The arrest warrant for Clayton says that he was supposed to be giving the victim a one-on-one voice lesson, but that he touched the student inappropriately during that lesson.
The arrest warrant also states that the 65-year-old Clayton rubbed the student's thighs and kissed her during that voice lesson last week.
The arrest warrant goes on to say that Clayton and the student exchanged roughly 1,700 text messages.
After a student reported the incident to the authorities, investigators worked with the victim to record a phone call between her and Clayton. The phone call lasted 30 minutes, but the content of that call was redacted from the arrest warrant.
Ebner-Winkler said that students complained about Clayton to the school's principal and guidance staff earlier this year but that nothing changed until Wednesday's arrest.
"They rarely called students to explain what happened, they rarely double-checked with anyone, they rarely told the students what was going on with any investigation that was launched about what was going on with him," said Ebner-Winkler. "All we knew is that no matter how many times people went to the office and complained about him, no matter how many rumors swirled about him touching someone in a weird way, nothing would happen about it."
Shortly after Clayton's arrest Wednesday morning the Douglas Anderson principal sent parents the following message:
Parent message (from Douglas Anderson Principal Tina Wilson):
Hello Douglas Anderson families, this is Principal Wilson calling. It is tremendously disappointing to have to call you with this information this morning, but there has been a situation at the school that I need to make you aware of. Earlier this morning, police arrested one of our teachers, Mr. Jeffrey Clayton, on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct involving a student. While the presumption of innocence still applies, if he is released from police custody, he will not return to the school and will have no interaction with students.
Our district’s internal professional standards team will also conduct an investigation and act on this matter. I hope you know that we have very high standards for the conduct of our teachers and employees. Behavior of the type alleged in this case is not tolerated, and appropriate action will be taken based on the evidence and conclusions that emerge. As always, if you have any questions or feedback, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me through the school. Thanks, and goodbye.