No report expected soon on 2023 investigation of Duval art school teacher misconduct

Douglas Anderson DASOTA via Duval Schools
'Due to pending litigation, we decline to comment further on this matter.'

Even after a Senator pressed Duval County Public Schools (DCPS) and the city’s General Counsel for more details on a ballyhooed investigation of recurrent issues at Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, a representative of Jacksonville’s Mayor says not to expect public disclosure of what was found during the probe began last year.

“There is no written report on this investigation within the Office of General Counsel. DCPS has retained an outside law firm, which has been conducting the investigation. Due to pending litigation, we decline to comment further on this matter,” said Melissa Ross, a spokesperson for Mayor Donna Deegan.

More than a year ago, former Superintendent Diana Greene said a “broad investigation” of “reports of improper conduct over the history of the school” was being undertaken by a firm retained by the Office of General Counsel, the entity that handles legal issues for Jacksonville’s consolidated government.

But Greene is long gone, with an Interim Superintendent having replaced her amid an ongoing search for a permanent replacement, and apparently any public visibility into a publicly funded probe into issues at a school funded by taxpayer dollars won’t be happening anytime soon.

The disclosure from the Deegan administration comes a day after Sen. Clay Yarborough raised concerns about the latest issue of teacher comportment in a two-page letter to Acting Superintendent Dana Krisnar, the School Board and Jacksonville General Counsel Michael Fackler. Among other questions, he wondered what the status of the investigation was.

The Senator articulated “serious concerns about the immediate safety” of students in the wake of a February arrest of a teacher over a “sexual incident” covered recently in the local press.

“The fact that the district was aware of this and allowed the teacher to remain in direct proximity with students and chose not to inform parents until last week is beyond comprehension,” Yarborough wrote.

Indeed, the time between the Feb. 27 arrest of Christopher Allen-Black for what the school principal called a “misdemeanor charge of exposure of sexual organs” in Orlando at a Disney resort and the announcement of his reassignment to parents (as the “presumption of innocence” applies) on Wednesday, April 17, is notable for Yarborough.

The accused is the fifth Douglas Anderson teacher in 14 months to be removed from classroom duties in one way or another. Yarborough asserts that the pattern shows that students are in “imminent danger of harm by adults” at Douglas Anderson, and extends his argument to assert that it shows “all Duval County students at risk.”

A.G. Gancarski

A.G. Gancarski has written for FloridaPolitics.com since 2014. He is based in Northeast Florida. He can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter: @AGGancarski


2 comments

  • Dont Say FLA

    April 23, 2024 at 4:20 pm

    It’s an arts school right? If kids don’t learn about the casting couch, how are they going to succeed in the arts?

  • Kids are smarter than politicians

    April 24, 2024 at 2:23 am

    1. There is a legal due process in place that the school, district, and city have to follow. The incident(s) did not happen on school grounds. It makes matters very difficult and complex. 2. These are high school kids. They’re high achievers and they’re not stupid. The same risks apply that have always applied. The reason you’re hearing so much about it is A) when something does happen they do deal with it, and B) when something happens at that school in particular, those kids scream bloody murder and don’t play and neither do their parents. It does not get swept under the rug like in previous generations (at any institution anywhere). That is what has changed. CY likes to clutch his pearls to save the “children” but votes against anything real that actually would improve their health, safety, and wellbeing.

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