JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A teacher at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts has been reassigned to duties off campus amid the investigation of another teacher, the school said in an email Friday.
“Earlier today (Friday), Douglas Anderson Principal Tina Wilson informed families that another teacher at the school has been reassigned to duties off campus and without student contact in an abundance of caution while a professional standards review is conducted. Please note that we follow the assumption of innocence standard,” the notice reads.
Duval County Public Schools confirmed that English teacher, Kerry Burke-McCloud, has been reassigned to duties elsewhere and without having contact with any students.
The move comes after the district was investigating Jeffery Clayton, who is charged with soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct with a student and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, his arrest report shows. Clayton submitted his retirement Tuesday.
Here are the communications that were sent to parents:
To Douglas Anderson parents from Principal Wilson
“Good afternoon families, this is Principal Wilson, and I am calling to update you on the situation at our school.
“I want to thank all of you who have written to me, sharing more about your student’s personal experiences. All those notes have been shared with the appropriate investigators.
“Because of allegations received, the district has made the decision to conduct a professional standards review of another teacher. While we follow the standard of presuming innocence until proven guilty, out of an abundance of caution, we will be moving Mr. Kerry Burke-McCloud to duties off campus and without student contact.
“If you or your student has information that might assist the district in any investigation, I encourage you to share that with Dr. Tameiko Grant, who is leading these investigations. You can email Dr. Grant at grantT1 (again that’s grantT1) @duvalschools.org.
“As you can see, we are taking these allegations seriously, conducting the appropriate reviews, and will take the appropriate actions following fact-finding and conclusions. While legally I cannot discuss these investigations, I assure you that any information shared with me will be transmitted to professional standards as appropriate. Thanks again for your cooperation and support as we work through this situation as a school community. Good-bye.”
To Douglas Anderson parents from Superintendent Greene
“Hello Douglas Anderson families, this is Diana Greene calling. I want to make you aware that I am closely monitoring the situation at Douglas Anderson.
“As superintendent, I am very disappointed to hear of so many students and alumni whose high school experience has been clouded with these terrible memories. As a mom, I can completely understand what you must be feeling as you become aware of these revelations. Because of my role in the employment process, I cannot become personally involved in any investigation, but I can tell you two things.
“First, to do these investigations well from a legal perspective takes time. These processes tend to be measured in weeks or months. We must take the time to do it right to ensure fairness and accountability.
“Second, on some things, I’m not waiting. What I already know factually has compelled us to create an action plan addressing the student experience at DA. DA is a special place and is home to some incredibly talented students. But they are students, and every student deserves a safe and effective learning environment.
“We will be in touch with you on next steps within the next two weeks, and I will greatly appreciate your partnership as we move forward together.”
A day after the arrest of a longtime vocal director of the Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, News4JAX has obtained his arrest warrant from the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Jeffrey Clayton, 65, is charged with soliciting or engaging in lewd conduct with a student and unlawful use of a two-way communication device, his arrest report shows. He bonded out of jail after his first appearance in court.
According to the warrant, the incident for which he’s charged happened Friday. Investigators said a Douglas Anderson student was driven to the school by her father for a singing lesson with Clayton, and that when they were alone in his office, he talked about his romantic and intoxicating feelings for her.
The report states that Clayton started rubbing her thighs with his hands, and then kissed her, first with his mouth closed, then with his mouth open. When the singing lesson was over, the girl’s father picked her up and took her home, and she told a friend what happened, the report states.
That friend, according to the warrant, told the Clay County Sheriff’s Office, and then a deputy and the Department of Children and Families arrived at the student’s house Sunday — and that’s how the parents found out.
Investigators decided to do a controlled call, and the report states that the girl texted Clayton, asking him to call her. He did, JSO said, and they talked for 30 minutes, while police recorded the call.
What was said is redacted from the report. Investigators said the girl showed police her phone, which had about 1,700 messages between her and Clayton dating back to last August.
Valencia Cagiano is a former student, the second that is speaking with News4JAX. She graduated from Douglas Anderson in 2003.
Cagiano recalled an interaction with Clayton, who she said became her vocal teacher during her sophomore year.
“He called me specifically into his office. The room was empty. I’m at the back of the classroom, and the door closes, and the hairs on the back of my neck stood up, and that’s when he was saying some of the most disgusting things,” Cagiano said.
She spoke of another experience.
“It started with a simple graze of the shoulder, grabbing you on the shoulder or putting his hand on your stomach to help you breathe, help you with the breathing exercise, and then it was — well come to my office,” Cagiano said.
Cagiano said she tried to report her experiences to school administrators, and that no one listened except for one teacher.
A third student, Samantha Cruz, said she took Clayton’s vocal classes for four years.
“He’s extremely rude, extremely egotistical, extremely manipulative and kind of a bully,” Cruz said.
A spokesperson for Duval County Public Schools on Thursday sent a follow up statement in regard to the arrest that reads in part:
“We are aware and have opened a comprehensive investigation of the matter in addition to our normal investigation regarding the arrested employee. An investigation of this nature is confidential, but I am able to confirm that it is in progress.”
DCPS asks anyone who might have information useful to the investigation to email Dr. Tameiko Grant, head of the district’s professional standards office, at GrantT1@duvalschools.org.