Westside High teacher, dean, coach accused of having sexual relationships with students

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Two former Westside High School employees resigned and one was fired after separate investigations into sexual relationships with students.

School records obtained by News4Jax show the dean of students, a teacher and a part-time coach were all alleged to be in relationships with minors during the past school year.

The three male staff members worked at Westside High School and all three incidents are currently being investigated by the school district, JSO and the Department of Children and Families.

Duval County Schools Superintendent Nikolai Vitti said the investigation into these cases is just getting started and he wants to know who else knew about the incidents and who else might be involved. 

"We are still investigating at the school level regarding whether additional employees knew of the inappropriate relationship and failed to report it," Vitti said. 

When asked, Vitti could only describe the recent allegations against the three employees as "disappointing."

"Without question, each of these individuals violated the trust that the community has with teachers and with the school district in general, and the trust that students have with teachers," Vitti said. 

Ernest Timmons, dean of students

In April, a former teacher told a school district investigator that Timmons, 32, was in a sexual relationship with a female student for the past two years. The student was 18 years old at the time of the report, but was a minor when the alleged relationship started.

Investigators interviewed several employees and students about the allegations. Several said they heard the rumors. One employee said she confronted Timmons about it and he "never denied the relationship."

Timmons, who was hired by the school district in August 2010, told the investigator that he had heard the rumors.

"He does not take the rumors and matters like this lightly, but said he's not losing any sleep over it. He knows his character and the hard work he puts in every day," the investigator wrote. "Mr. Timmons did not provide a reasonable explanation as to why he did not report the rumors to the principal."

The report continued: "Mr. Timmons said he has never been kissed by a student, he has never kissed a student, nor has he ever had sex with a student."

Timmons admitted to having sex with a former co-worker in his office at the school and inside her car, admitting "that was poor judgment."

After speaking to the investigator, "Mr. Timmons appeared somewhat emotional and began crying." The investigators said he called about 10 minutes after he left and asked if they could meet in person and talk off the record "man to man." The investigator declined.

In an interview with a Florida Department of Children and Families investigator, the student denied the relationship. The investigator said "it appeared she was covering for Mr. Timmons."

The school district report concludes: "There is a preponderance of evidence to support the allegation of gross poor judgment" and a sexual relationship. The district determined the claims were "substantiated."

A school district spokeswoman told News4Jax that Timmons has resigned.

Timmons had not been investigated or disciplined by the district before.

Kenneth Anderson Jr.

The school district also began investigating former teacher Kenneth Anderson Jr., 27, in April after receiving a tip from the same teacher who complained about Timmons. The teacher said she had information that Anderson, who was hired as a coach last June and then as a teacher last August, had sex with the female student on two occasions.

The student told a district investigator that she started her relationship with Anderson in January, when she would arrive to school late. He would write her a pass excusing her tardy.

The report said, "On one occasion, Anderson saw her dancing in class and asked her, 'Would you dance for me like that?'" Anderson allegedly gave her his cellphone number.

The student told the investigator, "They started calling, texting and sexting each other a lot."

She claimed Anderson drove her to a park and they had sex in his vehicle. Later, she said Anderson confessed to her parents his involvement in a sexual relationship. Her father forgave Anderson and does not wish to pursue criminal charges, according to the document.

The mother "does not share his sentiments."

A separate DCF investigation found that the allegations were "verified" for sexual abuse. The district determined the claims were "substantiated."

Anderson, who had not been investigated or disciplined by the district before, has resigned.

Clarence Thomas

The same tipster teacher also provided administrators and investigators with information about part-time coach Clarence Thomas, who also worked as a corrections officer with the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office.

According to the report, the student told a school district investigator that her relationship with Thomas began during the fall 2014 football season when he gave her his phone number. They began calling and texting each other a lot.

She told investigators Thomas "would pick (her) up in his vehicle from the sub-division where she lived. They would drive to a park and/or to Coach Thomas's residence and have sex."

When interviewed, Thomas, who was hired by the school district in April 2014, told the investigator the relationship started in October or November of 2014. He said he started out just being a friend. Thomas said they had sex approximately 20 times.

"He originally believed she was 18 years old, but found out in November she was only 17 years old," according to the report.  "He feels he made a 'bad choice.'"

The district determined the claims were substantiated and Thomas was terminated by the Duval County School Board on May 13. He had not been investigated or disciplined by the district before.

An investigation by DCF found that the allegations were verified for sexual abuse.

A JSO spokeswoman said the sheriff's office was notified in April by the complainant about the allegations, which began a JSO investigation, which is separate from the school board investigation.

The spokeswoman said Thomas is still employed as a corrections officers, but is currently on administrative limited duty.

While information about the three former employees was passed on to police, none of them has been charged criminally, according to jail records.

The school district is continuing to investigate whether there were any other people involved, or even aware of the sexual activity with students.

When looking in to the charges the school employees could face, News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said that charges in each case could vary.

"It depends on the age of the students at the time they were having the sexual activity. They could be lewd and lascivious behavior depending on the age. It could be unlawful sex with a minor. It could be sexual battery," Smith said. 

Smith also said the investigation will take time and each teacher will be investigated by multiple parties.

"One by the state attorney's office and one by the school board. The state attorney's office investigation will take awhile because there are several different charges that could be applied. So they're going to interview all the students and the teachers that are involved and get detailed information as to exactly what happened, to figure out what charge if any would apply to them," Smith said.