Mother flunks teacher on character

Published Dec. 3, 2005|Updated Dec. 3, 2005

The description of teacher Jeffrey Charles Ford as a "deeply religious" man infuriated the mother of the student with whom he had a sexual relationship.

The mother called the St. Petersburg Times on Friday and angrily described Ford, 27, as a married man who was "pursuing" her 18-year-old daughter and "calling her every night" at their home.

"Obviously, his marriage and his religion weren't that important to him," said the mother, whose name is being withheld to protect the student's identity.

Ford, a language arts teacher and assistant football coach at J.W. Mitchell High School, resigned this week after admitting to having sex with the student. Scott Schmitz, the head football coach, described Ford in a Times story Friday as a good person, a great teacher and an outstanding football coach. Schmitz also said Ford is a "deeply religious guy" who had "a lot weighing on his conscience."

It was that remark that prompted the mother's call to a Times reporter on Friday.

Ford's personnel file showed he was a teacher with consistently high marks and excellent references.

His 2003 application for employment with Pasco County schools portrayed Ford as a man devoted to helping his students.

"As cheesy as it may sound, what I most want to do in life is impact teens to make good decisions and become positive members of society," Ford wrote in his application.

But the mother described Ford as an older man who began pursuing her daughter before the girl's 18th birthday.

Night after night, the Mother said, "Jeff" would call asking for her daughter. She added that Ford sounded like a young man and said she had no idea he was a teacher.

But the mother also said the "sexual act" didn't happen until after the girl turned 18 in October.

Because the student is 18, Ford is not facing criminal charges.

The woman said her daughter was not a student in Ford's class and didn't know how they met.

She learned of her daughter's relationship with Ford shortly before she met with district and school administrators on Monday, she said. Ford had called a school administrator Sunday night to disclose his relationship with the student.

The director of employee relations for the district, Terry Rhum, said it will report Ford's relationship with the student to the Florida Department of Education.

Ford could not be reached for comment Friday. Meanwhile, the family of the girl is reeling.

"She told her brother that she had a crush on a teacher, but not this," the mother said.

She said her daughter has "screwed up" before but added "this one is a doozy." But she said that Ford, as a teacher, should have known better. "If you know my daughter, she's a very beautiful, loving girl," she said. "But very naive.

"What a way to lose your virginity."

Times researcher Angie Drobnic Holan contributed to this report. Mary Spicuzza covers education in Pasco County. She can be reached in west Pasco at 869-6241 or toll-free at 1-800-333-7505, ext. 6241. Her e-mail address is