Disgraced Jacksonville teacher faces prison term of up to 40 years for grooming

The 65-year-old 'rubbed (a student's) thighs and leaned in to kiss her multiple times' during a private singing lesson.

A former teacher at a Jacksonville arts school could be in prison for decades for misdeeds in the classroom.

State Attorney Melissa Nelson announced that Jeffrey Clayton, formerly of Douglas Anderson School of the Arts, “has pleaded guilty to the court to two Offenses Against Students by Authority Figures; Indecent, Lewd, or Lascivious Touching of Certain Minors; and Unlawful Use of Two-Way Communications Device, all related to his job as a high school teacher.”

The 65-year-old could go to prison for up to 40 years, or as few as three years. His fate will be finalized at a June sentencing hearing officiated by Judge Tatiana Salvador.

Per the State Attorney’s Office (SAO), in March 2023, a then-16-year-old student had a “one-on-one singing lesson” with Clayton, where the teacher “sat next to the student and professed his romantic feelings for her before he rubbed her thighs and leaned in to kiss her multiple times.”

“The victim confided in a friend about the incident, which led to a Department of Children and Families representative and Clay County Sheriff’s Office deputy visit to the student’s home, which then alerted the victim’s parents. The Duval County School Board Police then became involved,” the SAO notes.

Police set up a “controlled call” between the perpetrator and the victim later that month, where he further incriminated himself regarding the classroom incident and detailed “future romantic gestures he wanted to pursue.”

The victim provided police text messages, and other female students detailed their own interactions with him. Some of them will provide impact statements ahead of sentencing.

The plea deal comes amid ongoing scrutiny of the high school, the school district, and even the Jacksonville Mayor’s Office, with Sen. Clay Yarborough leading the charge for transparency regarding an investigation of actions perpetrated by Clayton and others.

While Jacksonville’s Office of General Counsel commissioned an investigation via a private law firm, a representative of Mayor Donna Deegan has said that report, funded by taxpayers, will not be released to the public given ongoing litigation.

Yarborough, who is calling state attention to the issue, has concerns about many aspects thereof.

Particular among them: the failure to make public the investigation given this pattern of problems at the magnet school.

“For DCPS and the City’s Office of General Counsel to delay the release of the taxpayer-funded investigation report related to the 2023 scandal suggests more wrongdoing is being hidden. Parents are demanding answers and our students deserve better. Where is the transparency? Today’s news does not cure the ongoing pattern of inappropriate sexual issues at the school. Ignoring years worth of symptoms brought us to what happened today and it is only one part,” Yarborough said.

“Waiting until after hiring another new Superintendent or until after this year’s School Board elections to release the investigation report will only make matters worse. The District and City have an opportunity right now to start dealing with the chronic problems. Will they choose to do so or look the other way is the question. Also, it is unknown whether the district responded to the federal lawsuit filed 11/11/23 by a former DA student.”

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


  • Dont Say FLA

    April 24, 2024 at 10:49 am

    More and more I think people get to an advanced age where they figure the consequences either don’t matter or, perhaps, might improve their situation. They’re too old for prison to be a real deterrent. This is why we shouldn’t have Presidents as old as the current guy or the last guy. Neither is young enough to care about their own future. We can only hope they care about their legacy. The last guy, unfortunately, clearly does not care about his legacy. Let us pray, “May he never be the next guy.”

  • Nah

    April 24, 2024 at 3:54 pm

    Could not disagree more. You seem to really hate people “above a certain age”. Do you have the ability to stop time for yourself? Character and age are not codetermining factors. What is more true is that who people are when they are 30 is generally who they are when they are 65 or 75. We have seen that time and again. Rhonda is the youngest governor in the state of Florida’s history and look how that turned out. I strongly disagree with you and your repeat comments about people’s ages are discriminatory and prejudiced and really not based in facts. Good luck.

  • MH/Duuuval

    April 24, 2024 at 8:00 pm

    Clay should take the same tack when it comes to sexual abuse in his church and denomination.

  • C. Cox

    April 25, 2024 at 5:14 pm

    Do you think people like me can do what trump did and after all this time and not be arrested

    • MH/Duuuval

      April 25, 2024 at 5:53 pm

      Are you a multimillionaire and have your own NBC tv program?

  • What happen to americanism

    April 27, 2024 at 8:49 pm

    A bit below the belt. This matter should be dealt quickly and never give it time to grow,,.inches turns Miles

Comments are closed.


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