Douglas Anderson teacher removed from classroom for second time; investigation into allegations reopened

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A Douglas Anderson School of the Arts (DA) teacher has been removed from the classroom for a second time as the school district’s office of professional standards investigates allegations against him again amid pressure from stakeholders.

Corey Thayer, who is the cinematic arts chair at DA, was accused in April of inappropriate touching.

After a professional standards investigation, he was back in the classroom in time for the start of this school year, but on Tuesday he was gone again.

“The district has become aware of additional information related to employee investigation involving alleged misconduct occurring in 2013-2014 by Douglas Anderson teacher Corey Thayer. As a result, he will be removed from contact with students and assigned to Bulls Bay pending the outcome of the investigation,” interim superintendent Dr. Dana Kriznar said in an email to school board members that was shared with News4JAX.

However, the I-TEAM’s investigation found the district was aware of the allegations from 2013 to 2014 in April, at the start of the investigation into Thayer, but it appears DCPS investigators didn’t fully follow up on them.

The arrest of longtime Douglas Anderson music teacher Jeffrey Clayton back March sent the school community reeling.

MORE | Audio recording: Detectives confront former DA teacher with evidence in case involving student

It was around that time the parent of a former student emailed a school board member, alleging that around 2013 and 2014, Thayer inappropriately touched her daughter and other students.

“I am willing to speak about the whole story, as there is too much to write,” the parent wrote.

Thayer was removed from the classroom, but according to an attorney representing that whistleblower’s now-grown child, no one in the family was contacted during the district’s internal investigation this year.

“This is something that we should be taking very, very seriously, and yet, time and time again, the administration has shown they don’t care at all,” said 2002 DA alumna Shyla Jenkins.

Jenkins has been a leader among alumni pushing for accountability and investigations into allegations of abuse by teachers at the school. She shared letters containing allegations from other alumni with the school board in April. One of the letters raises additional concerns about Thayer and accused him of grooming them when they were a student.

“We texted. We flirted,” one of the letters said.

The letters also alleged Thayer gave them bear hugs at school and told them “I love you,” but it didn’t go beyond that.

On Friday, Jenkins and attorney Chris Moser, who represents the student whose parent emailed the board about allegations of abuse in April, met with an attorney for the school district, Ray Poole. They wanted answers on why Thayer was back in the classroom.

“It’s about saving other schools from having to go through this and creating a process that parents and students can feel like when they turned in this information, they’re taken seriously,” Jenkins said.

Both of the former students who said Thayer acted inappropriately told Poole on Friday that they would provide testimony for an investigation.

Poole said his review of the internal investigative file into Thayer also included students writing in support of him.

He said removing Thayer may be difficult and the school district would need strong evidence. But, he said, Moser’s client’s account of the allegations was strong enough to send him straight up to the interim superintendent’s office Friday evening, and Thayer was immediately placed on leave.

“I am grateful Ray Poole acted and my client can sleep better knowing [Thayer] is no longer in the classroom,” Moser said in a statement.

News4JAX reached out to Thayer but has not yet heard back.

A spokesperson for DCPS confirmed Thayer’s reassignment to duties without student contact due to a human resources matter, but “Any other details about the matter will be confidential at this stage.”

They also said the following message was shared by the DA principal Tuesday morning:

Dear Families,

I am writing to inform you that Mr. Corey Thayer has been temporarily reassigned to duties without student contact due to a human resources matter. We will work to staff Mr. Thayer’s classes with a long-term substitute, and my administrative team and I will provide additional support to ensure the best possible instructional environment.

While I am unable to provide any further details about this situation, your student’s experience at Douglas Anderson is important to me and our entire staff. If your child needs any assistance, we would be glad to help you arrange that support. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help your child and ensure their continued success at Douglas Anderson.

If additional information becomes available for dissemination, I will be sure to share it with you.

About the Author:

I-TEAM and general assignment reporter