JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A First Coast High School chorus director accused of inappropriate sexual conduct with a former student of the school has been arrested.
Christine Dennard made her first appearance in court Saturday morning. Her bond was set at $7,515. By Saturday evening, jail records showed she had been released on bond.
Jail records show Dennard, 32, was charged with five counts of unlawful sexual activity with a minor between ages of 16 and 17. Her next court appearance is scheduled for Dec. 16.
According to an arrest report from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, an investigation into unlawful sexual activity began Nov. 21.
The alleged victim, a 16-year-old female student at the school, told investigators that she entered into an “intimate relationship” with Dennard, her teacher, from April to October of 2018. The student said she had sex with Dennard both off and on the campus of First Coast High School. Investigators were able to corroborate the student’s statements, according to the arrest report.
Parents of students received an email from Justin Fluent, the school’s principal, on Friday telling them of Dennard’s arrest. Fluent said the Duval County School District’s professional standards office is investigating.
Fluent said that everyone is deeply disappointed about the accusations, but those who know Dennard personally say Dennard is innocent.
“My heart goes out to whomever the victim is, my prayers go to them and their family, but I just believe in all heart of hearts they got it wrong,” a friend of Dennard’s for four years told News4Jax.
News4Jax crime and safety expert Ken Jefferson said though Dennard is innocent until proven guilty, other parents could begin to question the safety of their child.
“This basically compromises the trust between the student and the teacher when this sort of thing happens because now parents are concerned if this is predatory behavior, will my child be a victim of this sort of thing next,” Jefferson said.
According to a news release from the school, Dennard began teaching at the school in Aug. 2015 and First Coast High is her only school of employment in the district.
A statement from the Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene reads:
News4Jax has requested Dennard’s arrest report and mug shot from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Dennard is not the first teacher at First Coast High School to be accused of sexual misconduct. In an unrelated case, Jeremy Clark was arrested by the FBI in 2018 for possessing and exchanging child porn and admitting to molesting a student. He is now serving seven years in federal prison.